Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards unveiled an underground missile base at an undisclosed Gulf location today, Iranian state media reported, at a time of heightened tension between Tehran and the United States.
‘The base is one of several bases housing the Guards’ Navy’s strategic missiles,’ the state media quoted the head of the Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, as saying.
Scores of military trucks equipped with the anti-ship weapons were seen lining the walls of the underground tunnels of the secret base.
Last year, the Guards said Iran had built underground ‘missile cities’ along the Gulf coastline, warning of a ‘nightmare for Iran’s enemies’.
It comes as tension mounts between Iran and the US, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today using the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building by Trump supporters to ridicule the country and their ‘American values’.
He also called for the lifting of sanctions on Iran imposed by the US.
‘These missiles have ranges of hundreds of kilometres, enjoy pinpoint accuracy and huge destructive power, and can overcome the enemy’s electronic warfare equipment,’ Salami said.
He said the base, which is filled with the anti-ship weapons, was ‘one of several bases housing the Navy’s strategic missiles’.
There have been periodic confrontations in the Gulf in recent years between the Guards and the U.S. military, which has accused the Guards’ navy of sending fast attack boats to harass American warships as they pass the Strait of Hormuz.
There were a series of attacks on tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia and its allies last year, which were blamed on Iran.
In May, four tankers – two belonging to Saudi Arabia, one to Norway and one to the UAE – were struck by explosions near the UAE in the Gulf of Oman.
An investigation by the UAE, America and France concluded that holes in the vessels were likely caused by explosive charges placed near the waterline.
The US said Iran was responsible for the attacks, though they may not have directly carried them out.
That was followed by more attacks in June on two tankers, this time owned by Japan and Norway, in the same stretch of water.
America again accused Iran of being behind the attacks, saying an unexploded limpet mine was found on the side of one of the vessels.
The US also released footage which it claimed showed boats belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps returning to one of the ships after the blast to remove and unexploded mine.
The attacks led to spiralling tensions around the Gulf which saw Tehran shoot down an American Navy drone, which in turn almost led to the US bombing Iran.
President Trump ordered strikes against several IRGC bases, but called them off at the final moment.
Tensions have been high between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, signed under Barack Obama.
The deal – which was also backed by European powers including Russia – had promised the regime economic benefits in return for curtailing its nuclear programme in a way that would stop it developing weapons.
Trump tore up the deal in 2018 by reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to stop complying with the deal by accelerating its enrichment of uranium and rebuilding stockpiles.
The President has said he wants to negotiate a new deal with Tehran, but Iran has refused to enter fresh talks, urging the US to return to the terms of the original deal.
While European countries have tried to establish economic measures to skirt the American sanctions, these have been largely ineffective.
In a live televised address to the nation, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today demanded the US lift its ‘brutal sanctions’ on the country.
He also said Tehran was in no rush for the U.S. to rejoin a 2015 nuclear deal.
Khamenei said: ‘We are not insisting nor in a hurry for the deal. But what is logical is our demand [that] is the lifting of the sanctions. These brutal sanctions must be lifted immediately.’
Potentially complicating efforts by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the nuclear deal, Iran said on Monday it had resumed 20 per cent uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear facility.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity.
Tehran says it can quickly reverse its breaches if U.S. sanctions are removed. Biden, who takes office on January 20, has said the United States will rejoin the deal if Iran resumes strict compliance with the pact.
The developments come as Iran issued Trump a second arrest warrant on Tuesday for the drone strike that killed top general Qasem Soleimani.
Trump along with 47 other US officials were the subject of an Interpol ‘red notice’ request for their involvement in the drone strike in Baghdad last year.
‘The Islamic Republic of Iran is very seriously following up on pursuing and punishing those who ordered and executed this crime,’ judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told reporters.
The aggression coincides with the first anniversary of the assassination of Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East who saturated the battlefields of Iraq with high-tech IEDs to mutilate US soldiers.
Soleimani was slaughtered by a missile fired from a USAF MQ-9 Reaper aircraft along with Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as their motorcade pulled out of Baghdad airport.
Iranian Supreme leader Khamenei today paid tribute the pair and said: ‘I thank God and the dear people of our country for their epic movement in commemorating the anniversary of the martyrdoms of dear Soleimani and Abu Mahdi.
‘I also sincerely thank the Iraqi brothers and sisters for their massive, stunning turnout in honouring these martyrs.’
The killing of the second-most powerful man in Iran came at the height of tensions in the region, with numerous assaults on US personnel and on the embassy in the Iraqi capital, as well as the shooting down of a US drone over the Persian Gulf and the impounding of oil tankers.
In June, a prosecutor in Tehran issued an arrest warrant for Trump and dozens of other Washington officials, saying that they were responsible for ‘murder and terrorism.’
Interpol, based in Lyon, France, rejected that request on the basis that it does not intervene in ‘activities of a political, military, religious or racial character .’
It will almost certainly dismiss Tehran’s latest effort on the same basis.
Source » daily mail