No, and here is why.
The Next Big Iran Military Threat: Stealth Submarines That Could Battle Israel?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again slammed Iran’s presence in Syria, this time claiming that Tehran has a plan to base aircraft in the country, dock its submarines on Syria’s Mediterranean coast and directly threaten Israeli waters.
“They want to bring their air force there, right next to Israel,” Netanyahu declared in November 2017. “They want to bring Shia and Iranian divisions right next to Israel, they want to bring submarines and military vessels into the Mediterranean, right next to Israel. So we will not let that happen; we will resist it.”
Netanyahu’s claim that Iran intends to deploy aircraft to Syria is not necessarily new. In late 2015 there were reports in the Israeli press speculating that Iran had plans to send warplanes to Syria in support of embattled Syrian Pres. Bashar Al Assad. This never materialized.
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Netanyahu’s own former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said at the time that it wasn’t necessary for Israel “to respond” to such a deployment “so long as the Iranian jets don’t interfere with us,” in which case Israel would not have hesitated to shoot them down.
However, Netanyahu’s comment about Iranian submarines is peculiar. To be sure, Tehran does possess a small fleet of diesel-powered attack submarines. Aside from three diesel-electric Kilo-class attack submarines, purchased from Russia in the 1990s, Tehran has an estimated 21 domestically-built Ghadir-class midget subs based on the North Korean Yono class.
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The Kilos could certainly operate thousands of miles away from home for weeks before needing to be refueled. The Ghadirs, however, are designed prowl in the waters of the Persian Gulf near Iranian shores.
Iranian naval activity near Israeli waters are not unprecedented. In February 2011, Iranian warships crossed through the Suez Canal for the first time since the Iranian Revolution to undergo training exercises in Syria. However, were Iran to actually deploy its fleet of Kilo submarines in the Mediterranean near Israel’s coast it would likely amount to a symbolic projection of power and little more.
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