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Iran plans to deploy warships to Atlantic

TEHRAN: Iran is to deploy its newest warship to the Atlantic Ocean on a five-month mission — the navy’s longest in a decade, the conservative Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

“The navy has had a plan to deploy a flotilla to the Atlantic Ocean for a few years and now everything seems prepared to launch the mission,” said Fars, which is considered close to Iran’s military.

Rear Admiral Touraj Hassani-Moghadam told the official IRNA news agency on Friday that the mission would start early in the next Iranian year, which begins in late March.

The flotilla will comprise the new guided missile frigate destroyer escort Sahand, which was unveiled just last month, and the recently upgraded 33,000-ton fuel ship Kharg.

The vessels are expected to dock in a friendly Latin American country such as Venezuela, Fars said.

The ships are among Iran’s largest and both are capable of carrying helicopters.

The Sahand is a more advanced version of the Iranian-built Jamaran class which went into service over the past decade. It is a radar-evading stealth ship capable of electronic warfare, Rear-Admiral Alireza Sheikhi told IRNA last month.

Prepares for satellites launching

Iran’s telecommunications minister said on Saturday his country’s three new satellites have successfully passed pre-launch tests.

Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi made the announcement in a tweet but did not mention a launch schedule. Iran usually displays space achievements in February during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

On Tuesday, Iran said it plans to send Payam, a 200-pound (90-kilogram) non-military satellite into a 310-mile (500-kilometre) orbit using an Iranian Simorgh satellite-carrier rocket.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran’s plans for sending satellites into orbit demonstrate the country’s defiance of a UN Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iran says the launches do not violate the resolution.

Jahromi’s announcement comes soon after the US in November re-imposed all nuclear-related sanctions it had lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Washington pulled out of the deal in May.

Iran has pursued a satellite launch programme for years. The US and its allies worry that the same technology could be used to develop long-range missiles.

Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit over the past decade, and in 2013 launched a monkey into space.

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