Sunday, March 17, 2013

Iran launches destroyer in Caspian Sea

 Ebrahim Nourozi / AFP - Getty Images FILE
Iran's first domestically made destroyer Jamaran sails in the Gulf on February 21, 2009.

By Craig Giammona, NBC News

With President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looking on, Iran launched a domestically built destroyer in the Caspian Sea Sunday, the Iranian media reported.

The event marked first time Iran has launched a major warship in the oil-rich region, according to the Associated Press.

The 1420-ton warship, which is longer than a football field and can sail at 30 knots with a 20,000-horsepower engine, was put in the water near the northern port city of Bandar Anzali, about 150 miles northwest of Tehran, the Iranian media said.

The ship, named Jamaran 2, is equipped with advanced artillery and torpedo systems, can carry surface to air missiles and has a helicopter landing pad.

It was described by state media as a "symbol of the Islamic Republic's capability and strength that conveys the message of peace and friendship to the Caspian Sea states," according to Press TV, an English-language media outlet based in Tehran.

Press TV said the ship will formally join the Iranian navy in six months, after the completion of final tests.

Iran previously launched a version of the Jamaran destroyer in the Persian Gulf in 2010, AP reported.

In the last two decades, Iran has been building a self-sufficient military, reportedly producing its own jet fighters, tanks, missiles and light submarines as well as torpedoes.

Both Israel and the United States have not ruled out military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. The West suspects Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to press President Obama about a potential strike on Iran during a meeting between the leaders scheduled for Wednesday in Israel.

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