Wed, 20 Mar 2019

According to Iranian state media, President Hassan Rohani has inaugurated a new domestically built submarine armed with cruise missiles, amid heightened tensions with the United States.

'Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully self-reliant on land, air, and sea,' Rohani told a launch ceremony in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas.

'Our defensive power is meant to defend our interests and we have never sought to attack any country,' he also told the event broadcast live on the state-run Press TV.

Named the Fateh, or Conqueror in English, the submarine is Iran's first in the semi-heavy category, state media reported.

They said that the 600-ton submarine is equipped with torpedoes, naval mines, and subsurface-to-surface cruise missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometers -- enough to reach Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers in May last year and imposed biting sanctions on Irans economy.

He said the accord was flawed because it did not address Iran's ballistic-missile program or its support for proxies across the Middle East.

The European signatories of the deal remained committed to the pact, which restricted Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but have stepped up criticism of Irans missiles program and its meddling in countries in the Middle East.

Tehran has developed a domestic arms industry in the face of international pressure and embargoes that have barred Iran from importing many weapons.

Addressing the ceremony in Bandar Abbas attended by top military officials and cabinet ministers, Rohani said: Our enemy's pressure and sanctions imposed on Iran have instigated our progress.'

'Maybe we would not have this motivation to industrialize our defense sector,' Rohani also said, if Iran could just buy the weaponry it needed.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters RFE/RL's Radio Farda

RFE/RL's Radio Farda breaks through government censorship to deliver accurate news and provide a platform for informed discussion and debate to audiences in Iran.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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