Iran and North Korea are updating their aging fleets and building new and more advanced submarines in order to counter their adversaries in open waters.
Iranian navy commander Admiral Hossein Khanzadi touted his country’s underwater military capabilities during a speech Thursday in the northeastern province of Razavi Khorasan. He stated that “the most complex pieces equipment in the world are those found in the military and among the military equipment, the most complex are those found in the navy, especially submarines,” according to the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.
“But today, thanks to the efforts of the youth of this land,” he added, “the country has made significant progress in this area.”
The senior military leader’s remarks came just days after Iranian media aired an animated short depicting one of its Ghadir-class midget submarines taking out a U.S. Navy carrier strike group in the Strait of Hormuz. Despite a decades-old arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council, the Islamic Republic has continued to develop its surface and underwater forces as Washington and Tehran face tensions in the Persian Gulf region.
Last February, shortly after the submarine cartoon originally aired, Iran unveiled a new semi-heavy Fateh-class submarine at a ceremony attended by President Hassan Rouhani himself at the naval base of Bandar Abbas. The vessel debuted its cruise missile capabilities a week later at the Velayat-97 war games that covered more than 770,000 square miles across the Strait of Hormuz, Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean.
The Persian Gulf and its peripheries have been a flashpoint for worsening international frictions since President Donald Trump’s administration pulled out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018. Unilateral sanctions since imposed on Iran have increasingly restricted its ability to engage in trade, especially in the lucrative oil market.