A Chinese navy personnel stands guard during a naval parade off the eastern port city of Qingdao to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy, China, April 23, 2019. .
(photo credit: JASON LEE / REUTERS)
Iran will increase naval ties with China in the Northern Indian Ocean, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi told his Chinese counterpart, saying it would accelerate the withdrawal of other countries from the region.
“Given the strategic geopolitical situation (of both states), today, we are witnessing a leap in marine civilization in the Pacific Ocean by China and Northern Indian Ocean by Islamic Iran, which will force the arrogant powers to leave our naval zones and the regional powers will certainly fill the security vacuum and there will be no need to foreigners’ presence,” Rear Admiral Khanzadi was quoted as saying in China on Monday, by Iran’s Fars News.
Before leaving Tehran, Khanzadi – who is in China to attend the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy – said that the main goal of the trip was to develop interaction and contact between the two navies.
According to Iran’s PressTV, Khanzadi hopes to see an increase in the cooperation between the two navies “in the near future after identifying all capacities in the maritime technical, educational and operational sectors.” The Iranian naval chief is also reported to have offered technical advice on how to reach collective security in different regions, such as the Indian Ocean.”
Iran and China have maintained close diplomatic, economic, trade and energy ties, and in 2016 the defense ministers of the two countries signed an agreement to enhance defense cooperation.
In June, of the following year, the two navies held a joint maritime drill in the eastern part of the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman with an Iranian destroyer, two Chinese destroyers and some 700 Iranian navy personnel.
“The relations between the armed forces of China and Iran are developing positively. Beijing is ready to strengthen the strategic communication with Tehran, expand the spheres of cooperation, achieve new fruitful results of cooperation between the two armies and thereby contribute to the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership of the two states,” Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said last September after meeting with is Iranian counterpart Amir Hatami.
China is one of Iran’s main supplier of advanced weaponry, with some $316 million worth of weaponry exported to the Islamic Republic between 2007-2016. Some of the naval equipment Beijing has sold includes tactical ballistic and anti-ship cruise missiles, advanced anti-ship mines, and Houdong fast-attack boats.
Iran has been working to upgrade its navy, with new vessels and submarines introduced to bolster the country’s aging fleet including commissioning its first indigenously developed submarine capable of firing cruise missiles.
Iran has also used Chinese technology to develop its missile industry which it has provided to its proxy groups, such as Hezbollah and other terror groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006 the Israeli corvette INS Hanit was struck by a sea-to-sea missile, which according to Israel uses Chinese C-802 missile technology.
According to a 2018 report from the Pentagon, China’s production of ballistic missiles, guided missiles, surface-to-air missiles and air-to-air missiles for both its military use and export has improved significantly in recent years.
Despite US sanctions placed on Iran meant to pressure Tehran over its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program, Tehran is continuing to improve its missile arsenal, defending the program as being purely defensive.
Israel has reiterated its stance on numerous occasions that any transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah is a “red line” and has been working to prevent it through various means.
Israel is concerned that Iran is not only trying to consolidate its grip in Syria where it could establish a forward base to attack Israel, but that it is trying to build an advanced weapons factories in Syria and Lebanon in order to manufacture GPS-guided missiles that could hit targets with greater accuracy.
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