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    September 7, 2016

    Tupolevs in Iran: a message to the West

    TU-22M long range strategic bomber
    Ronald ZONCA, in Sputnik fr, September 4, 2016
    Translated by Tom Winter September 7, 2016

    (Original headline: "One of the explanations for Russian bombers in Iran")
    Russia will stand by its SCO partners, present and future, to help them defend their sovereignty.

    The arrival of Russian bombers in early August on the air base of Hamadan in Iran has caused much ink. Some praised the cooperation between the two countries, others called it the emergence of a new axis of evil. 

    The departure of these aircraft was also widely discussed. Most surprising was the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defence, who considered that the mission had been completed and this invites us to step out of the Syrian tactical framework. While the presence of Sukhoi-34 fighter-bombers matches up to the tactical part of the operations in Syria, the use of Tupolev 22Ms [in Iran] raises questions. The supersonic strategic bomber has already been employed in the Syrian theater all the way from Russian territory thanks to its long range of 6,400 km. 

    Its presence on Iranian soil is more of a geopolitical reach.

    Besides the fact that it can carry nuclear weapons, it can launch HK-22 and HK-322 cruise missiles. These are anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of 1,000 km. These are equivalent to the Chinese "aircraft carrier killer" missiles. The US considers that the oceans and seas are their exclusive property and that they have no need of sovereignty over the riparian states. In the face of any resistance, they permit themselves all provocations whether over the China Sea or the Persian Gulf, in order to have rival or competing countries give way.

    We are witnessing an escalation of tensions in these regions, provoked by the US preference for muscle-flexing over diplomacy. Iran is determined to enforce its rights over its territorial waters and has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, and the Strait of Hormuz is the conduit for 30% of the world's oil production -- notably from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. 

    This area is even more important than the port of Chabahar, terminal linking Russia-Caspian-Iran that will be a strategic point for the maritime part of the Silk Road. It is therefore impossible for Iran to abandon these areas to the customary and arrogant avidity of the US to control navigation.

    Iran, as an observer member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, must naturally have discussed the issue with other members. There is no doubt that Russia, which has had enough of American imperialism, has listened to the Iranian authorities.

    Russia has demonstrated its ability to project air power in Syria. She has just signified to Iran that Russia is ready to make available its air potential to deter the US from too pervasive a presence in the region: The appearance of Russian aircraft on an Iranian air base is a message to the West: 

    Russia will stand by its SCO partners, present and future, to help them defend their sovereignty. 

    The opinions expressed in this content are solely the responsibility of the author.
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