Iran unveils naval drone division as Biden tours Mideast

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The first drone-carrier division of the Iranian navy consisting of ships and submarine units carrying all types of drone for combat

By Agence France-Presse

Iran’s navy on Friday unveiled its first division of ships and submarines capable of carrying armed drones, as US President Joe Biden tours the Middle East. The United States and Israel, the sworn enemies of Iran, have previously accused the Islamic republic of using drones and missiles to attack US forces and Israel-linked ships in the Gulf.

“The first drone-carrier division of the Iranian navy consisting of ships and submarine units carrying all types of drone for combat, detection and destruction has been unveiled,” state television said. “All types of the latest advanced drones produced by the military and the defence ministry have flown over the Indian Ocean’s waters to demonstrate their capabilities,” it added, showing images of drones taking off from a naval vessel.

The announcement comes as Biden undertakes his first presidential visit to Israel, where he and the Jewish state’s caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday signed a security pact reinforcing their common front against Iran. Biden’s trip also included a presentation of Israel’s “Iron Beam” air defence system, which uses lasers to intercept drones and missiles.

“As we are aware of the aggressive attitude in the (United States’) system of domination, it is necessary to increase our defensive capabilities day-by-day,” Iranian army commander Abdolrahim Mousavi said on television. “If the enemies make a mistake, (these drones) will present them with a regrettable response,” he warned during the unveiling.

In October 2021, the United States imposed sanctions targeting Iran’s drone programme, accusing it of supplying the technology to its allies in the region, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Huthis of Yemen and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday said Iran plans to deliver “hundreds of drones” to Russia to aid its war on Ukraine. On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian dismissed Sullivan’s accusations as “baseless”, during a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba. Iran began developing its drone programme in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.