February 21, 2012
Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi says Iran will continue boosting its presence in the international waters, dismissing remarks by the officials of the Israeli regime on the arrival of two Iranian naval ships in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ignoring certain remarks made by others, the Islamic Republic will strongly beef up its naval clout and multiply its presence in the international waters, said Vahidi, reiterating that this trend is “unstoppable,” IRNA reported Tuesday.
On February 18, Commander of Iran’s Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that the country’s 18th fleet had sailed through Egypt’s Suez Canal into the Mediterranean and added that this was the second time that an Iranian naval fleet had passed through the waterway since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Vahidi further emphasized that despite the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic over the past three decades, Iran enjoys a top-quality naval might.
He added that it is obvious that other countries, particularly the Israeli regime, are worried about Iran’s capabilities and naval might since the Islamic Republic is seriously carrying on with strategies to further boost its presence in the international waters.
Two Iranian Navy ships docked at the Syrian port of Tartus on Saturday to provide maritime training to naval forces of Syria under an agreement signed between Tehran and Damascus a year ago.
On Sunday, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor publicized Tel Aviv’s concerns about the presence of the Iranian naval ships at Tartus, saying, “If the boats come near our territorial waters, we will monitor them very closely.”
The Iranian fleet, consisting of a destroyer and a supply ship, arrived at the port, situated 220 kilometers (136 miles) northwest of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Friday, upon obtaining authorization from the Egyptian armed forces a day earlier to sail along the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea on their way to the Syrian coastal waters.
Iran’s Navy has been multiplying its naval presence in the international waters since last year, deploying vessels to the Indian Ocean and dispatching two ships via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean for the first time in February 2011.
In addition, in line with the international efforts to combat piracy, the Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard the vessels involved in maritime trade, especially the ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly asserted that its overseas naval presence is meant to convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries.