A pair of Iranian Navy vessels arrived in Brazil last month, despite Tehran being under U.S. sanctions, and will next travel to the Panama Canal. Tehran recently announced it would establish a military presence in the region.
The frigate IRIS Dena and forward base ship IRIS Makran – the latter a former crude oil tanker converted into a helicopter carrier – were deployed from the Persian Gulf as part of a round-the-world cruise. The ships have already traveled east through the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, the Pacific, and around Cape Horn into the Atlantic.
The Iranian vessels made a port visit to Rio de Janeiro last month and departed on Monday.
Brazil, which last year saw the return of its socialist government following a highly contested election, has an ongoing trade relationship with Tehran. The port visit to Rio also follows one that the pair of warships made to Jakarta, Indonesia last November.
Iran – a New Global Navy Power?
It was last month that Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani told state media that the Iranian Navy is set to operate in and around the Panama Canal, while Tehran would also set up commands in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
“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,” Irani said in an interview with Fars News.
“We have formed three oceanic commands, including the Indian Ocean Command, the Pacific Ocean Command, and the Atlantic Ocean Command. Today we are present in the Indian and Atlantic oceans and soon we will be present in the Pacific Ocean.”
Some experts suggest that this is bolstering by Iran and that its intentions may exceed its capabilities. However, this deployment shows significant progress has already been made in Tehran’s naval ambitions.
Makran, at the time accompanied by the frigate IRIS Sahand, became the first Iranian naval warships to reach the Atlantic Ocean without docking at an international port in June 2021. Initially, there were reports that the ships were bound for Venezuela.
Still, instead, they traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia, to attend the Russian Navy Day – which commemorated the 325th anniversary of the founding of the Russian Navy.
Tehran has continued to develop closer ties with Moscow. Iran has supplied drones to Russia, which are being used in the Kremlin’s ongoing terror campaign in Ukraine, and last year there were reports that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) began to seek to acquire more advanced warships or at least designs from Russia.
Reaction From U.S. Lawmakers
U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that Iranian warships could now be operating in the region.
“Iran’s growing presence in the Western Hemisphere should come as no surprise as the Biden administration has a history of appeasement and engaging with authoritarian regimes. Tehran’s ability to expand its military presence in our hemisphere should be a warning sign, especially as it seeks to support the left-wing Marxist regimes that will undermine peace and stability throughout the region,” Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio told Fox News Digital via a statement.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.