The U.S. Navy has launched a submarine capable of carrying a large payload of missiles into the Middle East in an apparent warning directed toward Iran.
The nuclear-powered submarine is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet, which has a patrol that includes the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
‘It is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and is deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure regional maritime security and stability,’ said Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins.
US-Iranian relations have further soured in recent years following former President Donald Trump’s successful order to kill Iran’s top military commander, Qasem Soleimani — as well as his decision to end a deal that curbed sanctions on Iran in exchange for a reduction in nuclear weapons development.
The heightened aggression from Iran extends also to U.S. allies — namely the United Kingdom and Israel — who along with the US have reported unusual amounts of aggression and even attacks from Iranian forces.
Iran has denied the reports.
In February, Iran renewed threats to target Trump and top members of his former Cabinet, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for the 2020 killing of Soleimani.
‘God willing, we are looking to kill Trump [and] Pompeo … and military commanders who issued the order should be killed,’ Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps aerospace force, told Iranian state television.
Last month, American naval forces teamed up with UK counterparts to seize ‘anti-tank guided missiles’ and missile components from a boat that originated from Iran.
The joint operation – in which the U.S. provided ‘airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for an interdiction in the Gulf of Oman conducted by the United Kingdom Royal Navy’ – occurred on Feb. 23.
Iran has expanded its missile program in recent years, ramping up what it claims are defensive arms as a show of defiance to the West in the wake of the collapsed nuclear arms treaty.
While Western officials are concerned over Iran’s growing arms programs, it has also urged caution when it comes to the viability of Iran’s capabilities, including in November when the Pentagon said it was skeptical of Hajizadeh’s claims that Iran had added hypersonic ballistic missile to its stockpiles.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Greg Norman contributed to this report.