In a first, Iran to establish military presence in Panama Canal
This marks Iran entering the Pacific Ocean region for the first time ever.
For the first time, Iran's navy will station vessels in the Panama Canal, a vital economic artery in America's backyard that has never seen an Iranian military presence.
The commander of Iran's navy, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, confirmed on Wednesday that Iranian forces will establish a presence in the Panama Canal later this year, marking the first time Iran's military has reached the Pacific Ocean.
This comes as Iran has been cementing ties with Latin American countries, most notably Venezuela, in recent years within the framework of the country's development roadmap.
Iranian ships have docked in Venezuela more regularly, as the two countries share a similar history of enduring excruciating sanctions by the US and its allies.
Iran frequently delivers fuel to Venezuela and often helps it sell its oil abroad as Iran possesses the necessary refineries to turn crude oil into high-value consumer products such as gas.
In February this year, the two countries announced that direct flights between Tehran and Caracas will become operational starting in August.
In June, the two countries' leaders concluded a 20-year cooperation plan to expand joint cooperation in various sectors, such as oil, banking, and the economy.
Executive Director of the Center for a Secure Free Society and national security analyst Joseph Humire, who focuses on Latin American issues, argued that Iran has been planning for this type of voyage by holding joint exercises with allies such as Russia and China, both of which have been cementing their ties with Latin American countries.
"This is what Iran has been building in Latin America for the past 30 or 40 years" by establishing embassies and bilateral agreements with a host of nations, Humire added.
On this issue, Iranian Rear Admiral Irani commented by saying that the navy presence in the Panama Canal is meant to "strengthen our maritime presence in international waters," as per comments published by local media outlets.
"Today we can say that there is no scientific barrier to grow in that field," Irani added.
Read next: Liberation movements in a historical echo: Latin America to West Asia