Iranian warships were set to return to Sudan later this week, AFP reported Monday, one month after a similar port call in the wake of Khartoum’s accusation that Israel bombed the Yarmouk military factory.
“Two Iranian warships would also visit Port Sudan harbor on November 30 and would stay at the harbor for three days within the military maritime cooperation,” AFP quoted Sawarmi Khaled Saad, Sudan’s army spokesman, as saying.
Sudan’s relationship with Iran has come under scrutiny following Israel's alleged October 23 bombing of the Yarmouk installation, which led to speculation that Iranian weapons were stored or manufactured at the site.
A pair of Iranian warships spent two days in Port Sudan last month in a visit Saad said evidenced the “strong political, security and diplomatic relations between the two states.”
Meanwhile, officials in Sudan on Sunday said they intend to move sections of the Yarmouk military plant outside of the city of Khartoum’s residential district.
Khartoum’s governor, Abdul Rahman Khidr, said that the government had begun plans to establish a new headquarters for the plant, which opened in 1994 and began manufacturing in 1996.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied striking the Yarmouk complex, but officials have repeated accusations that Sudan and Iran are coordinating arms smuggling to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip via Egypt.
According to Sudan’s Al-Rakoba daily, Khidr said that its military factories had enriched the country, making it a “target for enemies of the nation.” His comments reportedly came during a ceremony condemning “Israeli aggression against the Yarmouk compound."
Earlier this month, Sudanese President Omar Bashir said Khartoum would seek to acquire “advanced weaponry” to counter “repeated Israeli attacks.”
Echoing Tehran’s terminology and rhetoric, Bashir said Israel was “the Zionist enemy and Israel will remain the enemy,” Sudanese news sources reported.
Tehran has repeatedly emphasized Sudan’s importance to its power nexus. Iranian Interior Minister and former defense minister Mostafa Muhammad-Najjar recently dubbed Sudan the “pivot of Iran-Africa relations.”