TEHRAN – Iran may seek to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future, as distant footholds might be more valuable militarily than nuclear technology, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces said in remarks published on Sunday.
“We need distant bases, and it may become possible one day to have bases on the shores of Yemen or Syria, or bases on islands or floating (bases),” said General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, quoted by the Shargh daily newspaper.
“Is having distant bases less than nuclear technology? I say it is worth dozens of times more,” added Baqeri, who was speaking at a gathering of naval commanders.
Gen. Bagheri added that setting up naval platforms off the shores of those countries requires “infrastructures there first.”
He said Iran is also able to set up permanent platforms for military purposes in the Persian Gulf and roving ones in other places.
Gen. Bagheri did not elaborate but said “When two-thirds of the world’s population lives near shores and the world economy depends on the sea, we have to take measures. Though there is a need for the time for these [steps].”
This is the first time that an Iranian military official has spoken of setting up naval bases in another country in the region.
No Middle Eastern country is known to have a formal naval base in another Mideast country.
Iran regularly sends its warships to the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy. It also conducts occasional naval manoeuvres in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.