Iran claims its new submarine can launch cruise missiles in warning to U.S., Israel

Iran unveiled a new submarine this week that the government claims can launch cruise missiles while employing state-of-the-art technologies aimed at interdicting U.S. Navy warships and carriers in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani introduced the new domestically-built semi-heavy sub dubbed the Fateh, or Conqueror, on Sunday to thousands at the port city of Bandar Lengeh, UPI reported.

The Iranians said that the Fateh can remain underwater for five weeks at a depth of 650 feet and is capable of launching cruise missiles that can travel more than several hundred miles.

“We will not bow down to the hegemonic power. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves and spill our blood to protect Iran,” Rouhani said at the ceremony, according to Al Jazeera.

The sub was unveiled just a week after Iran’s 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, which some analysts said was intentional.

“There are definitely messages, which are being conveyed to Washington, D.C.,” said Maysam Bizar, a Tehran-based journalist, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

He added that it’s an “old tradition” to show off Iran’s new military equipment during the revolution anniversary.

Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari said the Fateh was entirely produced in Iran. He noted that the sub’s construction began in 2008, but it’s completion “is a record since the average time in the world is between 12 to 15 years.”

The sub is comprised of some 412,000 pieces and employs 76 state-of-the-art technologies, Iranian officials said, as quoted by state media. Also, the sub took 4.2 million working hours to construct at 120 industrial centers featuring 80 knowledge-based companies, 57 universities and 195 research centers, the official Mehr news agency reported.

“Fateh submarine was a leap in building submarines and it completed the defensive chain of our country below waters,” said Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, commander of Iranian َArmy and Navy.

The sub features torpedos and surface-to-surface weapons all of which are integrated into a new battle management system that includes advanced sonar. The sub is powered by a diesel-electric system which makes it very quiet.

“Defense Ministry’s Marine Industries Organization is prepared to carry out the missions of the Islamic Republic’s powerful naval forces, including the IRGC, Army and the Police Force in designing, constructing and supplying advanced marine equipment and weapons, fast, surface, sub-surface and ground-effect vehicles using the state-of-the-art technology,” Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami, Iran’s defense minister, said in a report by Mehr.

Tehran’s first submarines were Soviet-built Kilo-class boats that were first deployed two decades ago. The Iranians launched their first home-produced submarine around 2006.

Some question whether Iran has really built the new sub on its own or the country had outside assistance.

Press TV published a promotional video of the sub:

Earlier this month, Iran announced it had conducted a successful test of its new cruise missile, the Hoveizeh, that has a range of up to nearly 850 miles, which is capable of striking Israel.

The Jewish state, meanwhile, has a small navy and submarine force, but it is highly advanced and arguably one of the most sophisticated in the world. The Israeli navy’s sub force also represents the country’s “second-strike” nuclear capability.

The navy received its fifth new sub, the INS Rahav, in 2016.

“Our submarine fleet serves as a deterrent to our enemies who seek our destruction.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time. “They need to know that Israel is capable of hitting with very great force anyone who tries to harm us. And Israel’s citizens need to know that Israel is a very strong country that is doing everything to defend them, everywhere and on every front.”

Foxtrot Alpha reports:

Built in Germany, [the Rahav] is a variant of the highly capable Dolphin 2 class of diesel-electric submarines. She joins four other boats in Israel’s fleet, the Dolphin, Tekuma, Leviathan and Tanin. The first three of which are Dolphin 1 class, with the Tanin being the first of the improved Dolphin 2 class.


Top Iranian official says country has formula, technical ability, to produce nuclear bombs

A top Iranian official says his country possesses the chemical and technical abilities to produce a nuclear weapon, the Washington Free Beacon reported citing Farsi language remarks that were independently translated for the news site.

The translation quoted Ahmad Khatami, a senior member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, which has close ties to the country’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He noted in recent remarks that the ability to possess a nuclear missile “is vital for Iran to confront the U.S. and its allies,” as noted in Farsi language comments made over the weekend.

“Having missile[s] and nuclear authority is vital for Iran to confront the U.S. and its allies,” Khatami was quoted as saying during which he also described the U.S. government as a thug.

Those comments come following recent threats by the supreme leader to top Trump administration personnel including the president himself, his national security adviser John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Free Beacon reported.

Experts on Iran and the Middle East who spoke to the news site said U.S. intelligence agencies should take Khatami’s claims about having the ability to produce nuclear weapons seriously and as such, ought to begin an investigation into several potential agents linked to the Iranian regime, including some who are known to operate in the United States.

In his comments, Khatami said that his country currently had no interest in building a nuclear weapon but that if it wanted to, Tehran could do so.

“Iran never has had the intention to build a nuclear bomb. Iran has the formula but does not want to use the weapons of mass destruction, but it is vital for Iran to have nuclear energy,” he said.

The claims by Khatami, which cannot be confirmed via open source materials, run counter to what the Obama administration told Americans when it signed the so-called “nuclear deal” with Tehran.

“Disarmament advocates consider it a major achievement of the Obama administration, averting a possible military conflict with Iran and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” The New York Times reported in October 2017 as President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull out of the deal.

“The agreement severely limited Iran’s ability to enrich uranium fuel and other activities necessary to make nuclear weapons. While Iran has repeatedly promised that it would never seek nuclear weapons, the agreement provided verifiable assurances for the first time,” the paper said.

In May 2018, the Washington Post‘s “fact-checker” gave the president “Four Pinocchios” — which means the paper believes the president was lying when he said that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within seven years, when portions of the agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, expire.

At the time, a report by the Congressional Research Service noted that Iran likely already has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran has nuclear programs that could potentially provide Tehran with the capability to produce both weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium — the two types of fissile material used in nuclear weapons,” according to the report, the Post noted. “Statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”

Other experts also believe Iran could soon produce nuclear weapons.

“Left unchecked, in about a decade Iran will be closer to producing enough nuclear fuel for a bomb — a ‘breakout capability’ — than it was before the agreement was finalized in 2015,” David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a skeptic of the Iran deal, and Andrea Stricker, a senior policy analyst at that institute, wrote in an op-ed in January.

“The Europeans recognize the danger of allowing the sunset clauses to stand, yet they haven’t offered any serious solutions. They are, however, rebuilding business with the Islamic Republic. Although the nuclear deal placed restrictions on Tehran’s gas centrifuge uranium-enrichment program, the regime will be allowed in just six years to ramp up the centrifuge manufacturing process essential for the production of thousands of advanced centrifuges.”

British, Israeli intelligence agencies smuggled Iranian nuclear scientist to the UK

As part of the West’s ongoing efforts to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapons program, elements of Israeli and British spy agencies Mossad and MI6, respectively, have reportedly smuggled a top Iranian nuclear scientist out of the country to the United Kingdom.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post, the scientist, a 47-year-old who was not identified, was also allegedly involved in the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan in Tehran in 2012, one of four Iranian nuclear scientists killed in recent years.

The paper said the unnamed scientist first made it to Turkey under a plan drawn up in October, using the migrant crisis as cover, then traveled via inflatable boat alongside other Iranian migrants to the UK.

The BBC noted further that the influx of Iranian migrants to the United Kingdom increased recently following a decision by Serbia’s government to accept Iranian tourists without them having to apply for a visa.

The deal was meant to increase both trade and tourism between Serbia and Iran but has also enabled some Iranians to escape the repressive regime in Tehran through Europe.

“It was determined infiltrating him into a group of fellow migrants preparing to cross the Channel by boat offered one solution,” a British secret service official told The Daily Mail. 

After reaching the UK, the Iranian scientist was interrogated by MI6 regarding the current status of Iran’s nuclear program. From there, he was flown to the United States, likely for further questioning.

The scientist reportedly assisted in the assassination of Roshan; the Israeli Mossad has long been suspected of carrying out the assassination, however.

The J-Post noted further that Tel Aviv has been long thought be behind a secret operation to persuade Iranian scientists into abandoning their country’s nuclear program mostly by eliminating those deemed most valuable, though Israel has never confirmed or denied the claims.

Top Iranian general vows to wipe Israel off ‘the global political map’ as fears of major new Middle East war mount

A top Iranian general vowed on Monday to eliminate Israel from “the global political map” if Jerusalem launches a new war, noting that it “will end with its elimination.”

In an interview with reporters in Tehran, Revolutionary Guard Corps deputy commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami was asked about Israeli forces targeting Iranians in neighboring Syria.

He was quoted by Iranian news outlets as saying, “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. And it seems that, considering the evil that Israel is doing, it is bringing itself closer to that.

“We announce that if Israel does anything to start a new war, it will obviously be the war that will end with its elimination, and the occupied territories will be returned,” he added, The Times of Israel reported. “The Israelis will not have even a cemetery in Palestine to bury their own corpses.”

His comments come following Israeli’s rare confirmation of a recent daylight raid near at the international airport in Damascus against Iranian targets including missiles that Tehran reportedly moved into Syria.

They also come amid increasingly bellicose rhetoric exchanged between Iranian and Israeli Defense Force (IDF) leaders as fears mount of a major new Middle East war.

Tensions are especially rising along the Israeli-Syria border between Iranian forces and their Hamas proxies and the IDF.

Following Israel’s daylight raid, Iranian forces reportedly fired a surface-to-surface missile toward the Golan Heights, former Syrian territory which Israel occupied after the Six Day War in 1967. Israeli media noted that the IDF’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted the Iranian missile.

Within hours, IDF jets attacked Iranian positions near Damascus including a Syrian air defense system that attacked Israeli warplanes.

A Britain-based Syrian human rights group noted that the IDF raids killed 21 people, including 12 Iranian fighters.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 12 Iranians killed were members of Salami’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Israelis have seen Iran build up its forces inside Syria for the past couple of years, regularly vowing to ensure that Tehran did not gain an adequate foothold inside the war-torn country from which to launch an invasion of the Jewish state.

Iran’s objective has been to create a land bridge from its eastern border with Afghanistan to the Mediterranean Sea, which it can then use to launch strikes at Israel.

In addition to Iranian forces gathering inside Syria, Iran-linked militias including Hamas and Hezbollah occupy territory inside both Syria and Lebanon. Reports note that Hezbollah has amassed an estimated 130,000 missiles which are far more than Israel defenses can handle.

It is believed that any major new war would begin with Israeli warplanes and missiles preemptively attacking sites believed to house Hezbollah missiles, wherever they were — including near civilian centers.

Earlier this week, Iran’s military chief of staff, Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, indicated Tehran was preparing to adopt offensive military tactics to protect its national interests, according to PressTV.

He didn’t say that Tehran intended to seize foreign territory, but rather “to protect our national achievements and interests, we may adopt an offensive approach.”

On Sunday, meanwhile, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heidari, told reporters that his troops had formed into a “forward-moving and offensive” force.

“To protect Iran, the armed forces no longer need asymmetric approaches, and we are at a stage where we can defend our homeland… by using good offensive approaches,” he said, according to Press TV.

The statements come just a few days after some 12,000 Iranian forces held annual military drills in  Isfahan Province. Troops, tanks, fighters, and drones were involved.

Israel attacks Iranian targets in Syria in major escalation; 11 dead

Israel Defense Force missiles and aircraft struck targets at Syria’s international airport near Damascus on Monday during a rare daylight raid that military officials say involved Iranian targets.

Also rare was the Israeli government’s admission that it was involved in striking Iranian targets inside Syria, a departure from a years-long policy of ambiguity and denial regarding its military operations there.

Targets included munitions storage facilities as well as an intelligence-gathering site and a military training camp, reports said.

The strikes were launched in response to a surface-to-surface rocket attack that Iranian forces alleged fired toward the Jewish state on Sunday that Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted, which was caught on video over a kis resort in the Golan Heights.

The missile intercept followed daylight Israeli airstrikes near the Damascus International Airport.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes lasted for nearly an hour and were the most intense IDF attacks since May. The group said 11 were killed in the strikes.

Russian military officials, meanwhile, said four Syrian troops were among those killed.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters that the Iranian missile attack which led to the strong Israeli response was “premeditated.”

Reports said that Iranian forces launched the mid-range missile from Syria toward Israel from the area near Damascus. IDF officials said the missile had been smuggled into Syria by Iran for the express purpose of launching it at Israel.

Conricus would not identify the type of missile, but he said it had not been used in any of the internal fighting in the Syrian civil war and had “no business” being in the country. He added that Iranian Quds Forces operating in Syria conducted the attack.

Other reports claimed that a number of Israel missiles were also intercepted by Syrian air defenses.

Tass, quoting senior Russian military officials, claimed that 30 Israeli “cruise missiles and guided bombs” were intercepted.

“On January 21, 2019 between 2:11 am and 2:56 am the Israeli Air Force carried out three air strikes on Syria’s territory from the western, southwestern and southern directions. While repelling the strike, the Syrian air defenses destroyed more than 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs,” the National Defense Management Center told reporters.

The Syrian strikes follow another warning last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iranian threats inside the country would not be tolerated.

White House sought options from Pentagon to strike Iran

The White House national security team tasked the Pentagon with providing options to strike Iran last fall after a group of militants linked to the Islamic republic fired on an area in Baghdad that houses the U.S. embassy in Iraq, Reuters reported Monday, citing an unnamed administration source.

The source noted that the Pentagon formulated options to the White House in response to the request, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and which came from the White House National Security Council headed by John Bolton.

In citing current and former U.S. officials, the paper noted the request alarmed officials in the Pentagon and the State Department.

“It definitely rattled people,” a former senior administration told the paper. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

The Journal also reported that it wasn’t clear whether the options were actually given to the NSC, whether POTUS Donald Trump was aware of the request, or whether there were ever any serious plans drawn up to strike Iran.

The request for options came in response to three mortars fired into a diplomatic sector in Baghdad in September, the WSJ reported.

The rounds landed in the open and there were no injuries.

But three days later, unidentified militants fired a trio of rockets that struck near the U.S. consulate in Basra, a southern Iraqi city. They did not cause any serious damage.

In a separate report, Axios reported that former Defense Secretary James Mattis was frequently upset by the president’s questions about why U.S. Navy warships did not destroy Iranian “fast boats” as they approached them in the Persian Gulf.

“So these boats, they get in, they come in really fast, they come in really close … and they might have explosives on them and we don’t even know,” the president said, as recounted by someone who claims to have been in the Oval Office at the time. “Can you believe this? And we don’t do anything?”

Pompeo: Iran’s space launch tests are cover for nuclear missile development

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that Iran’s testing of space-launch vehicles is really cover for the further development of nuclear-capable ICBMs.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi in advance of private meetings with Gulf States to discuss Iran’s ongoing support for terrorist groups, Pompeo said U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Iran’s satellite launches are part of Tehran’s quest to continue advancing its ballistic missile technology.

Iran is preparing to launch several satellites into space in the coming days, U.S. officials believe, which is spurring new concerns that the regime is using them to cover up ICBM development, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Such ICBM testing violates United Nations rules prohibiting such activity, Pompeo told reporters, in describing Tehran’s actions as provocative in nature. The secretary also said the Trump administration planned to rally countries in the region to help hold Iran to account for its suspected nuclear weapons-related work.

“You’ll see in a handful of days the Iranians intend to launch a space launch vehicle,” Pompeo told the Free Beacon. “The claim is that it is to put some satellites in the air. The truth is this will be another step in their understanding of how it is you can launch an ICBM.”

“The whole world needs to come together to oppose that,” Pompeo added.

He went on to confirm the Trump administration’s policy that such tests by Iran violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which declares that Iran must stop its ongoing tests of various types of advanced ballistic missiles.

Pompeo noted that it was the administration’s hope that countries throughout the region would come together to condemn Iran and help to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Iranian government and religious leaders in the past have frequently threatened to destroy Israel using nuclear weapons.

“The nuclear proliferation risks from Iran are incredibly real,” Pompeo noted further.