The Islamic Republic of Iran’s military is sending warships to Brazil and the Panama Canal to challenge the United States’ presence in the region and establish strong military ties, according to reports.
U.S. officials are reportedly tracking announcements by Tehran as it deploys several military ships to Brazil, where Iran and the new Brazilian government have economic and military ties.
“We are aware of these claims by Iran’s navy. We continue to monitor Iran’s attempts to have a military presence in the Western Hemisphere,” said a U.S. State Department official to Fox News Digital.
The Islamic Republic-affiliated news outlet, Tehran Times, reported over the weekend that the Islamic government’s 86th flotilla warships are “now sailing along the western shores of Latin America,” said the Navy’s second-in-command.
According to Western officials, Iranian warships have not yet docked in Brazil.
“Iran’s growing presence in the Western Hemisphere should come as no surprise as the Biden administration has a history of appeasement and engaging with authoritarian regimes. Tehran’s ability to expand its military presence in our hemisphere should be a warning sign, especially as it seeks to support the left-wing Marxist regimes that will undermine peace and stability throughout the region,” said Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio to Fox News Digital.
Florida Representative Maria Elvira also told Fox News Digital that the Islamic Republic “has been aggressively strengthening its ties to the Western Hemisphere through like-minded socialist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. They are also looking for opportunities elsewhere, and it’s no coincidence that Iranian ships are docking in Brazil just a month after a socialist retook power in the country.”
“Instead of supporting the Iran-friendly socialist and left-wing regimes in Latin America, the Biden administration should be strengthening political forces committed to keeping our hemisphere free of antisemitic terror,” Elvira said to Fox News Digital.
In January, the Islamic Republic’s Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, told Fars News that the navy has been “present in all the strategic straits of the world, and we have not been present in only two straits — in one of which we will be present this year, and we are planning to be present in the Panama Canal.
According to experts, the regime’s interference in the Panama Canal shipping transport passage could damage American trade and shake the global economic market. Around 16 percent of the world’s shipping fleet is registered in Panama, according to officials.
Tehran Times reported that Rear Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani told Iranian news outlet Press TV that the flotilla of warships will dock in Rio de Janeiro, adding that Iran’s “military is increasing day to day despite all the pressures against the Islamic Republic over the past 43 years.”
Press TV noted that Kaviani said that the navy’s 86th flotilla includes the Dena and Makran which is reportedly equipped with “anti-ship cruise missiles, torpedoes, and naval cannons.”
“Makran is a forward base ship weighing 121,000 tons. The warship can carry five helicopters and is employed for providing logistical support for the combat warships,” the news outlet said.
Officials familiar with Iran’s actions said the regime does not have a growing military presence in Central America but acknowledged the regime’s desire to project power into the Americas.
According to a statement by Mojtaba Babaei, a spokesperson for the Iran mission at the United Nations, to Fox News Digital, the Iranian navy presence in international waters is “in accordance with international laws and to gain knowledge, experience and increase capabilities, not against any country.”
Responding to the reports, Panama Foreign Minister Janian Tewaney told Fox News Digital that the Panama government does not “support terrorism,” responding to former Florida Republican Governor and advisory board member of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) Jeb Bush’s opinion article in the Washington Post in January.
According to Bush’s article, Panama has “been instrumental in the [Iranian] regime’s continued survival,” and is “strengthening Iran by helping it to circumvent sanctions.”
Bush also said Panama aids Iran in oil smuggling.
Following the elections of socialist leaders in Latin America, the Islamic Republic of Iran has strengthened its presence in the region, working with governments in Brazil, Colombia, and other countries to support terrorist proxies like Hezbollah, engage in drug smuggling, and military cooperation against America and the international community.
With the regime in Tehran continuing to face mounting protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for her hijab wear at the hands of the morality police, the ayatollahs have looked to Latin America to help keep the government alive from potential overthrow.