Iran Says It Has Sonar-Evading Submarine

Iran claimed Wednesday to have built a small submarine equipped with sonar-evading technology, saying the craft had been launched in the Persian Gulf.

The navy chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, was quoted by state television as saying the new Ghadir-class submarine is the second Iranian-built underwater craft outfitted with “state-of-the-art electronic equipment.” He said it took 10 years to build.

The report showed a picture of a submarine, but it not clear that it was the Ghadir. Official media said Iran’s two domestically built submarines can fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously but gave no information on the weapons’ ranges.

Iran has been pushing an arms development program in recent years, producing its own jet fighters and armored vehicles and claiming to have built radar-avoiding missiles and other high-tech weapons. On Tuesday, it announced a new long-range missile.

But many of Iran’s weapons development claims have not been independently verified, and analysts are skeptical of its claims to such weapons as a super-speed torpedo and radar-evading, anti-ship missile.

Iran described the Ghadir as a “light” submarine, presumably meaning it is smaller than the attack subs used by the United States and other industrial nations. Iran has provided very little information about the craft, including its dimensions or the size of its crew.

The Ghadir submarine is named for a site in the Arabian Peninsula that is holy to Shiite Muslims, who make up the overwhelming majority of Iran’s 69 million people.

Iran has also three diesel-electric Russian made submarines. The submarines, while not as sophisticated or quiet as U.S. and Russian nuclear-powered craft, could be perceived by the West as a threat to vessels in the heavily traversed waters of the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the new submarine is part of Iran’s drive toward self-sufficiency in arms production, the television report said.

“Today, you have been able to design and build many of the military requirements. We have become self-sufficient from other countries,” Khamenei was quoted as telling navy commanders Wednesday.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said the Islamic Republic will defend itself should the United States or archrival Israel ever attack.

Pressure has been mounting on Iran over its nuclear program, with the U.S. and its allies pushing for a third round of U.N. sanctions as punishment for Tehran’s failure to obey a Security Council demand that it suspend uranium enrichment.

Washington and others charge Iran wants to use enrichment to produce material for atomic bombs, but Iran contends it is only working to provide fuel for nuclear reactors that would generate electricity.