Iran deploys submarine, cruise missile in exercises

Iran deploys submarine, cruise missile in exercises
A handout picture provided by the Iranian Army’s official website on September 11, 2020, shows an Iranian Nasr missile being fired from a navy warship during the second day of a military exercise in the Gulf, near the strategic strait of Hormuz in southern Iran. (AFP/HO/Iranian Army website)
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Updated 11 September 2020

Iran deploys submarine, cruise missile in exercises

Iran deploys submarine, cruise missile in exercises
  • The submarine dubbed the Fateh — Persian for “Conquerer” — was seen in action for the first time and sailed up the Indian Ocean
  • The Iranian navy also test-fired a “Ghader” land-to-sea cruise missile first unveiled in 2014, saying it successfully hit its target at a distance of over 200 kilometers

TEHRAN: The Iranian navy on Friday deployed homegrown military equipment including a submarine and a cruise missile on the second day of exercises near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The submarine dubbed the Fateh — Persian for “Conquerer” — was seen in action for the first time and sailed up the Indian Ocean, the military said on its website.
The near 600-ton sub is equipped with torpedoes, mines and cruise missiles, and can stay underwater at a depth of more than 200 meters (650 feet) for up to 35 days, according to Iranian media.
Unveiled last year, it is Iran’s first submarine in the semi-heavy category, filling a gap between its light Ghadir class and heavy Kilo class submarines.
Dubbed “Zolfaghar 99,” the three-day exercises are being held over waters stretching from the northern Indian Ocean to the eastern end of the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of world oil output passes.
The Iranian navy also test-fired a “Ghader” land-to-sea cruise missile first unveiled in 2014, saying it successfully hit its target at a distance of over 200 kilometers (124 miles).
The installation of missile systems “all across the country’s southern coast has enabled us to target any threat at sea from any point,” navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said.
“This is not about deterrence; it’s about attacking any target that could pose a threat for Iran,” he said on state television.
Videos aired on state television showed the missile being fired from a mobile system installed on a truck, with Khanzadi thanking the crew afterwards.
A locally-made “Simorgh” combat drone also destroyed its targets using “smart, precision bombs” in waters more than a 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away, the navy said.


UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts
Updated 23 January 2021

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts
  • Geir Pederson wants enhanced international diplomacy, and tighter focus on progress in drafting new constitution
  • The fifth session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee begins in Geneva on Monday

NEW YORK: Geir Pedersen, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, on Friday called for “more serious and cooperative” international diplomacy as part of political efforts to improve the lives of the Syrian people and develop a vision for the future of their country.

Speaking ahead of the fifth session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which begins on Monday in Geneva, he also urged committee members to focus their efforts and work more effectively to speed up progress on constitutional reform.

Pedersen expressed hope that much-needed international engagement with the peace process is now possible.

“After all, despite the differences, key states are continuing to reaffirm their commitment to Resolution 2254,” he added, referring to the UN Security Council resolution, adopted in 2015, that calls for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.

Pedersen, who briefed the Security Council this week on the latest developments, highlighted the fact that five foreign armies are active in Syria and “violations of Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity (have been) going on for years.”

Although the ceasefire agreement reached by Russia and Turkey in the northwest of the country resulted in a de-escalation of hostilities, Pedersen warned that this relative calm remains fragile.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) 

“All of these issues cannot be sorted out by the Syrians alone,” he said. (They) need an international cooperation (and) a real exchange of views (among all parties).

“If that political will is lacking it would be very, very difficult to move this process forward ... if you leave this to the UN alone, we will not be able to succeed.”

Top on the agenda on Monday will be discussion of the basic principles of the Syrian constitution. Pedersen said he has been meeting with the two co-chairs of the committee on a regular basis, and has also had intensive discussions with the “Middle Third” civil-society group, which includes society activists and experts and other independents from inside and outside of Syria.

His experiences during the past year, he said, lead him to believe there is potential for finding common ground. No single actor or group of actors can impose its will on Syria or settle the conflict alone — they must work together, he added.

The time has now come for the co-chairs of the Constitutional Committee to organize and focus its efforts by establishing “more effective and operational working methods,” Pedersen said, so that they can begin to move forward from preparing constitutional reforms to actually drafting them, and agreeing on clear agendas and discussion topics for future meetings.

“There needs to be more urgency (in) delivering progress in this process,” he added.

As he saluted the work of civil society groups and “all the Syrians who do what they can to improve the situation on the ground and support a political process,” Pedersen singled out women in particular for praise. He has been particularly proactive in seeking input from the Women’s Advisory Board.

“It is a priority for all of us to make sure that we have full participation of Syrian women in the political process,” he said. “(Promoting) their core constitutional rights is central for me, as the facilitator of the work of the Constitutional Committee.”

Asked about plans for large-scale prisoner swaps, Pedersen said that although this is not on the agenda for the talks in Geneva this week, it is always part of his own agenda. The disappointment over the lack of progress on the issue so far means “that we should work even harder” on it, he added.

“This is a file that really has an impact on nearly every Syrian family, and it needs to be addressed,” he said. “(I) have appealed (for) more information on the missing. (We) need to see the early release of women, children, the elderly and the sick, and I think (nothing) should stop that from happening.”

The members of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee are due to arrive in Geneva on Saturday, and Pedersen will consult with the co-chairs over the weekend before the main talks begin on Monday.

Asked whether he expects this latest round of negotiations to be a success for the UN, Pedersen said: “I really do not think this is the question; the question (is) whether it is a success for the Syrian people and (their) aspirations.

“My hope has been that the Constitutional Committee, if it is handled in the correct manner, could start to build trust and (be) a door-opener for a broader political process.

“But the (committee) cannot work in isolation ... we need political will from the different parties to be able to move forward.”

He added: “The (committee) is just one aspect, and it is not the one aspect that will solve the Syrian crisis. If we are to see changes in the situation on the ground, there are other factors that need to be discussed.”