Listen to this article Amid Iran Tension, US Deploys Nuclear Submarine In Mideast
US Deploys Nuclear Submarine in Mideast Amid Iran Tension
The US is deploying the USS Florida, a nuclear-powered submarine with the capability to carry up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, to support the US Fifth Fleet and ensure maritime security and stability in the region. The submarine began transiting the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean Sea on Friday, according to the US Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.
US commanders have expressed concerns about Iran’s expanded missile capabilities, nuclear enrichment activities, and increased attacks on US troops and their allies in Iraq and Syria. The latest US deployment also follows Israel’s shadow war with Iran and major geopolitical shifts in the Middle East.
The Submarine Deployment
Commander Tim Hawkins, spokesperson for the US Naval Forces Central Command, confirmed the deployment but declined to provide further details on the mission or its timing. He did not specify whether the submarine was headed to the Persian Gulf, but the deployment is believed to be in support of the US Fifth Fleet, which is also based in Bahrain.
It is extremely rare for the US military to publicize movements of its nuclear-powered submarines. In October, US Central Command announced a visit by its chief General Michael Kurilla to a ballistic missile submarine in the Arabian Sea, and before that, it was a guided-missile submarine transiting the Strait of Hormuz in late December 2020.
Iran’s Capabilities and Recent Developments
US commanders have warned about the threat Iran poses to the interests of the US and its allies, citing Iran’s “diverse missile arsenal” and increased malign behavior in recent years. In response to this threat, the US has deployed the USS Florida to support the US Fifth Fleet in ensuring regional maritime security and stability.
Recent developments in the Middle East have heightened tensions. Israel has bombarded sites in the Gaza Strip that it claims belong to the Iran-allied Hamas militant group, and the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad, fully supported by Iran, claimed responsibility for a barrage of rockets fired at northern Israel from neighboring Lebanon.Furthermore the latest wave of violence was triggered by clashes between Israeli police and Muslim worshipers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.
Days before the deployment of the USS Florida, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vowed to avenge the killing of two of its commanders in Syria in what it said were Israeli air strikes. On March 23, an Iranian-made drone launched by groups tied to the IRGC hit a US military facility in Hasakah in northeast Syria, killing a US contractor and wounding five soldiers, prompting retaliatory US air strikes, according to the Pentagon.
Geopolitical Shifts in the Middle East
Worried that recent developments might jeopardize its grand economic plans, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and Washington’s main Gulf Arab ally, is seeking cooperation with Iran, pivoting toward China, and forging a closer alliance with Moscow, especially on oil policy. Meanwhile, the US and its Western allies have pressed on with their efforts to isolate and weaken Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.
The current geopolitical shifts in the Middle East highlight the complex web of alliances and rivalries that exist in the region. Although the US officially welcomed a possible reduction in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it expressed surprise at Riyadh’s move to involve China as a guarantor and its support of Assad, who is Iran’s primary Arab ally.Read more: US Deploys Nuclear Submarine In Mideast Amid Iran Tension