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Iran unveils warship, missile launchers amid regional tensions   

With the 2,100-ton vessel added to its fleet along with nearly 100 missile-launching boats, Iran appears to be flexing its muscles at sea.  
An undated image of Shahid Mahdavi.

TEHRAN — Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) added a new warship and scores of missile-launching fast boats to its naval fleet in the Persian Gulf on Thursday. 

The ocean-cruising ship, dubbed Shahid Mahdavi, was inaugurated by the IRGC's chief Maj. Gen. Gen. Hossein Salami and its naval commander, Rear Adm. Alireza Tangsiri, at a ceremony in the southern port of Bandar Abbas. 

According to details provided by the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News, the warship weighs 2,100 tons and is 240 meters long. It's capable of carrying helicopters, drones and a host of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missile systems and is loaded with advanced communication equipment and 3-D radars.

The 95 launching boats enjoy "very high maneuvering power" and the ability to "operate under varying weather conditions," Tasnim reported, adding that the missiles they carry could reach targets of up to 180 kilometers (112 miles).

Iranian officials claim that the "multipurpose" vessel is entirely homemade and have described it as a "naval city" prepared for ocean missions. "It has been launched for sustainable security," said Tangsiri. He hailed the IRGC's upgrading of its rocket-launching system into a missile-launching one as a key step toward "bolstering combat capabilities."

Iran has repeatedly argued that boosting its military power is for "deterrence" and that it has no intention of aggression upon regional nations. Its Persian Gulf rivals, however, are unsettled, particularly by the controversial missile program, which Tehran has been upgrading amid international criticism.

Tensions at sea have also been flaring up in recent years, especially with Israel and the United Arab Emirates. And every now and then, the Islamic Republic has threatened to shut the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow Persian Gulf waterway vital to global oil trade. 

The unveiling of the warship comes at a moment of international pressure on the Islamic Republic over its military cooperation with Russia in the form of delivering drones believed to be used against Ukrainian infrastructure and civilian targets.

Last week, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denied the accusation once again. He claimed, "The Ukrainians have been supposed to bring evidence since four months ago, but have yet to come back."

On the very same day the Iranians were inaugurating the "unprecedented" achievement in Bandar Abbas, Ukraine's military said it had shot down four Iran-made Shahed suicide drones as Russia was relentlessly pounding energy facilities in the cities of Kharkiv and Odesa. 

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