December 9, 2023

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US deploys submarine amid heightened tensions with Iran

A nuclear-powered submarine in Kings Bay, Georgia, passed through the Suez Canal on Friday.

The US Navy has deployed a guided-missile submarine capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk missiles to the Middle East, a spokesman said Saturday.

The Navy rarely acknowledges the location or mobilization of submarines. Commander Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, declined to comment on the submarine’s mission or the reasons for its deployment.

A nuclear-powered submarine in Kings Bay, Georgia, passed through the Suez Canal on Friday. “It is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk surface attack cruise missiles and is with the 5th Fleet (…) to help ensure regional maritime security and stability,” Hawkins said.

The 5th Fleet patrols the critical Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. The region includes the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb and the Red Sea beyond Yemen, which extends to the Suez Canal, an Egyptian waterway connecting the Middle East to the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent years, the US, Britain and Israel have accused Iran of attacking oil tankers and merchant ships, allegations Tehran denies. The U.S. Navy has reported a series of tense maritime encounters with Iranian forces in what it says are unwarranted aggression.

The United States launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Syria last month after a rocket attack in northeastern Syria killed an American contractor and wounded seven others.

Fired from ships or submarines, Tomahawks can hit targets up to 2,500 kilometers away.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran rose after former US President Donald Trump pulled the country out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which eased economic sanctions in exchange for curbs and improved monitoring of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities.

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