The head of the Iranian navy this week vowed to station warships in the Panama Canal for the first time as part of the country’s expansion into major “straits,” the Tehran Times reported.
“Today, we have a great opportunity in the sea area for the development of the country, and we can turn this gift from an economic capacity into a civilizational capacity by using the maritime capacity properly,” Navy Cmdr. Rear Adm. Shahram Irani said in an address at a ceremony Wednesday. “Today, the use of the sea is a geopolitical advantage for us, and those who do not have this capacity are suffering from geopolitical suffocation.”
He added: “So far, we have been present in all the strategic straits of the world, and we have not been present in only two straits, in one of which we will be present this year, and we are planning to be present in the Panama Canal.
“The actions taken today in the navy would not have been possible without the support of the elite society, knowledge-based companies and the Ministry of Defense. Today, this capacity is at the service of the country’s progress.”
Irani added: “If my comrades are approaching the shores of the American continent, they are showing signs of the authority of dear Iran. As a showcase for the dear people of our country, we appeared in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
“Of course, along this route, Australia and the French created threats for us and tried to violate the laws they had approved to cross their coasts. But we answered them with authority and according to the law.”
Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran “has always been known to have a military presence in Latin America, so it’s not surprising at all for its navy to announce it’s going to make moves on the Panama Canal.”
He added: “This is a tremendous escalation if it is to happen. Many people may discount Iran in terms of its capabilities … but I would not discount it because they have been building to this for a very long time.”
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