The Iranian mock-up of a US aircraft carrier is for the production of a movie about the 1988 downing of an Iranian airliner by the US Navy, according to Iranian media.
Iranian-owned Al-Alam News Network reported that the mock-up is being built for a film titled “Airbus,” about the July 3, 1988, downing of civilian passenger plane Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes. The plane, which according to the American crew was mistaken for a F-14 Tomcat fighter, was shot down in Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf and killed all 290 people on board.
News of the joint Iranian-Canadian production was first announced in April 2013. According to Iranian website Cinemanegar, it is being co-directed by Nader Talebzadeh and Paxton Winters and will star both Iranian and American actors, most prominently Sean Ali Stone, the son of American filmmaker Oliver Stone.
According The New York Times, the mock-up, which satellite photos revealed also has mock aircraft on deck, is about two-thirds the size of the Navy’s Nimitz-class carrier and according to experts is “not a functioning aircraft carrier.”
The Al-Alam article did not specify if in the movie the Nimitz aircraft carrier was meant to take the place of the USS Vincennes, which is a guided missile class cruiser not an aircraft carrier.
The mock-up, which was being built in plain view with no efforts to conceal its production, has baffled experts, lawmakers and journalists.
Among the theories posited by experts and US officials is that the Iranians had wanted to build the aircraft carrier and blow it up to “make a propaganda point, if … the talks with the Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program go south.” The New York Times article suggested that the Iranians are building the mock aircraft carrier “presumably for some mysteriously bellicose purposes.”
“We don’t really know what it means, but I for sure don’t trust the Iranians,” said Senior Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., of the mock aircraft carrier. He added, “It’s some kind of ruse and whatever they are up to, it’s no good.”
A defense official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said, “They got this barge and threw some wood on top of it to make it look like the USS Nimitz. That’s all we know for sure.”
The downing of the civilian airliner was viewed by some Iranians as an intentional decision by the United States to enter the Iran-Iraq war militarily on behalf of Iraq and is still today one of the many grievances Iranians and Iranian officials have against the United States.
Talebzadeh is an Iranian filmmaker who attended Columbia University film school in New York. He is less known for his films than his vocal criticism of American movies. He hosted the conference “Hollywoodism and Cinema,” which held discussions of American entertainment agendas of tarnishing Islam and Iran. Yet, he does advocate engagement more so than other conservative filmmakers.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article contained a typo due to an editing error. This has been corrected.