November 29, 2007

Iran launches first domestically built destroyer and submarine

16:43 | 29/ 11/ 2007

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov) - Shortly before the recent international conference on the Middle East in Annapolis, Maryland, Iran announced the creation of a new ballistic missile, the Ashura.

It also timed with the conference the official commissioning of its first domestically built destroyer, the Jamaran, and its first domestically built Ghadir class submarine.

The Iranian military claim that the submarine can easily evade detection and fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously. Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habib Sayyari has said the destroyer is better than any warship of its class built "before the Islamic Revolution" (1979), adding that the Iranian Navy is closely watching the U.S. fleet in the Gulf and the entire region.

This fits the traditional pattern for Iran's military PR campaigns - embellishment of the truth bordering on outright lies.

Take the Ashura missile.

According to the Israeli intelligence service, the Ashura is a solid-fuel missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles). This means it can hit targets in Saudi Arabia and Turkey and could reach Egypt and Bulgaria, not to mention Israel.

But this is nothing new. Iran's Shahab-3 and Shahab-4 missiles, with a range of 1,300 km (808 miles) and 2,000 km (1,243 miles) respectively, are also capable of reaching Israel. However, Israel's Hetz (Arrow 2) interceptor missile is more than capable of dealing with them.

The Ashura tests, timed to coincide with the Annapolis conference, served little practical purpose: Iran's territory is not big enough to test missiles with such a range. Yet Tehran has announced the "success" of the project - most likely in an attempt to remind its neighbors of its military might.

Iran was offended that it was not invited to attend a conference where all Arab countries were represented. Moreover, not only the Palestinian Authority, but also Hamas and Hizbollah, both of which are sponsored by Iran, said they would attend.

In public, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been dismissive. "Even the most silly politicians will soon see that the conference was bound to fail politically," he is reported to have said.

Though Ayatollah Khamenei, the spiritual and supposedly supreme leader of Iran, confined himself to predicting that the conference would fail, Ahmadinejad told the Saudi King on the phone that it must not be held in the first place, and that he was sorry Saudi Arabia had accepted the invitation.

The Iranian media later wrote that King Abdullah had assured Ahmadinejad that Saudi Arabia "would never recognize the legitimacy of Israel." Clearly, that is small consolation to Tehran.

Iran's leaders have announced they will hold an alternative conference soon, but they are likely to be disappointed. Hamas spokesman Abu Osama Abd-al-Moti has already said that it would not be a conference, but a meeting held during a pre-planned visit by the Palestinian leadership visit to Tehran to discuss the situation in the Palestinian territories and the region as a whole.

Psychologists describe Tehran's situation as "reward deficiency syndrome." There is a problem indeed, if even Iran's supposed clients refuse to show solidarity with it.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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