According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, the Iranian Navy has announced plans to deploy parts of its navy to Antarctica in the “near future” for the first time ever.
The press release further states that the 86th Flotilla returned to Iran a few days ago after a round-the-world tour. Preparing for a deployment of Iranian ships to Antarctica was apparently one of the main objectives of a recent mission of the 86th Flotilla, it said. Iran says it could gain direct access to the polar region and thus claim sovereignty in the area. The two naval vessels that participated in the circumnavigation, IRIS “Dena” and the base ship IRIS “Makran,” covered 63,000 kilometers in eight months.
At a ceremony in the Iranian coastal city of Bandar Abbas, the crew members of the Iranian Navy’s 86th Flotilla were received by senior Iranian Army officials. Upon arrival, General Bagheri said the flotilla’s voyage was an “outstanding achievement” and that it exemplified Iran’s maritime capabilities.
The 86th flotilla broke the record for the distance ever covered by an Iranian flotilla in international waters. One of the main objectives was to test the strength of the steel in the cold waters of the South Atlantic before heading further south in the future.
“Presence in Antarctica is important from various scientific, legal and political, geostrategic and economic aspects, and this region will be an important issue in the international arena in the future,” Tasnim quoted the head of the Marine Science Research Institute of Iran National Institute of Oceanography Abolfazl Saleh as saying.
The news agency further added that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s establishment of a permanent base at the South Pole to increase the country’s strategic depth has attracted great attention in recent years.
The Iranian National Institute of Oceanography (INIO) announced back in 2012 that it would establish a permanent station at the South Pole in the next three years. Nothing has happened yet. In addition, the country is not yet a member of the Antarctic Treaty System. However, this would be necessary to get the announcements going in the first place.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal