IRAN’S deployment of warships in the Atlantic could be an attempt to put the diplomatic ball in Joe Biden’s court ahead of nuclear negotiations, an expert has said.
Navy ships from Tehran – which Washington believed may have been on their way to Venezuela to carry out an arms transfer – made their way across the Atlantic earlier this month.
Though they have now changed course after the Biden administration urged nations in the region not to let them dock, according to Politico.
But with tensions simmering somewhat between Tehran and Washington – and ahead of an election that could see hardliner Ebrahim Raisi enter the fray – the Iranian leadership could be testing Biden’s resolve.
Professor Daniel Hellinger of Webster University told Redaction Report: “I believe that the Iranian decision to send warships toward Venezuela has more to do with attempting to projecting geopolitical power than attempting to influence the outcome of elections in Iran.
“The main Iranian vessel is carrying smaller attack ships that may be outfitted with missiles, but their main purpose is probably to deter the U.S. naval military attacks, provocative maneuvers, or military enforces of sanctions on Venezuelan trade and oil exports.”
The quick attack ships, which are used by Iran to harass American vessels in the Persian Gulf, would certainly be an annoyance if deployed in the Atlantic.
Enemy ships sailing towards Latin America may invoke Soviet-related memories for some officials in the Pentagon, but Professor Hellinger said the move could be Iran’s warning shot to the US – and saving face after their most prominent warship caught fire earlier this month.
“These weapons do not threaten the U.S. in any way comparable to those deployed by Russian during the Cuban missile crisis,” he told Redaction Report.
“Still, if the Iranians do attempt to deliver the attack ships, it is risky venture, given the limited military capacity of their navy, whose most formidable warship burned and sank in the Persian Gulf just two weeks ago.”
But after Pedro Castillo’s victory in Latin America – an event Redaction crowned as the resurgence of the Pink Tide in the continent – the Iranian leadership may be more confident in the region, and try to make and strengthen connections with various nations there.
Anything that makes Iran look more powerful ahead of negotiations over the JCPOA is useful leverage, according to Professor Hellinger.
He said: “It sends a statement to the U.S. that Iran intends to stand by Venezuela, a sister oil producing country that is now one of Tehran’s few close allies.
“In addition, Iran may believe that the action could put additional pressure on the U.S. to ease sanctions and strengthen Tehran’s hand in negotiations over nuclear capacity.”
Iran and Venezuela have significantly strengthened their relations in recent years. In May 2020, Iran sent five oil tankers—Forest, Fortune, Petunia, Faxon, and Clavel— containing 1.53million barrels, to Venezuela.
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