Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is set to unveil a “state-of-the-art” domestically produced submarine, which the defence ministry said is capable of firing cruise missiles.
Rouhani is in the southern province of Hormozgan on Sunday to introduce the latest addition of the naval fleet dubbed the Fateh, or Conqueror, the country’s first semi-heavy submarine, according to Mehr news agency.
In his speech to thousands of supporters at the port city of Bandar Lengeh ahead of the submarine launch, Rouhani warned against the division in the country, saying that is the goal of Iran’s enemies.
“We will not bow down to the hegemonic power. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves and spill our blood to protect Iran,” he said.
The Mehr news report said the 600-tonne submarine to be launched on Sunday is equipped with torpedoes and naval mines, and can operate more than 200m below sea level for up to five weeks.
Tasnim news agency added that the Fateh is also outfitted with a guided-missile system capable of launching undersurface to surface cruise missiles, and advanced sonic radar system that can identify enemy vessels.
“The Fateh is entirely a homegrown submarine that is designed and developed by experts of the defence ministry and is equipped with the world’s modern technologies,” Brigadier General Amir Hatami, the defence minister, was quoted by Tasnim on Saturday.
The Fateh is the latest addition to Iran‘s fleet of submarines, which was first launched about 20 years ago.
Hossein Dalirian, a defence reporter of Tasnim news agency, noted in a social media post that the latest submarine is one of the most important projects Iran’s military have undertaken in the last 40 years.
The move is the latest show of military strength by Iran, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at a time of heightened tensions with the United States.
Maysam Bizar, a Tehran-based journalist and political observer, said that while it is an “old tradition” in Iran to launch new military equipment during the anniversary of the revolution, Sunday’s unveiling of the submarine takes a more significant meaning.
“There are definitely messages, which are being conveyed to Washington DC,” Bizar told Al Jazeera, saying it could well be a “deterring factor” by Iran against US warships in the region.
The US and other European countries have repeatedly warned against Iran’s missile programme. The US said that the missiles are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
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The missile programme is not covered by the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, and Tehran insists that it is purely for defensive purposes. UN nuclear inspectors have also said that Iran is not pursuing any nuclear weapons, and has continued to abide by the nuclear agreement.
Since the US decision to withdraw from the 2015 deal and reimpose sanctions, Iran has ramped up its missile development.
Earlier this month, Iran announced that it successfully tested a new cruise missile, Hoveizeh, with a range of up to 1,350km.
Days later, it also unveiled the surface-to-surface missile called Dezful, with a shorter range of 1,000km.
Iran has so far set a 2,000km limit to its missiles -a range capable of reaching Israel and other Western military bases in the Middle East, but not the US. According to experts, an Iranian missile requires a 10,000km range to reach the US.
The US has pointed to these recent missile activities in its efforts to convince Europe and other countries to withdraw from the nuclear deal.
But Europe has resisted the pressure, saying that staying within the nuclear deal gives it more diplomatic leverage to convince Iran to curb its missile programme.