US threatened to use sanctions on Panama to block Iran navy flotilla
The Iranian Navy’s 86th flotilla sailed through the Panama Canal on February 1, raising concern among White House officials.
Panama deliberately ignored threats issued by the US when an Iranian naval flotilla crossed through the Panama Canal, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani recounts.
The Iranian Navy’s 86th flotilla sailed through the Panama crossing on February 1, raising concern among White House officials.
The commander of Iran's navy, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani said in January that Iranian forces would establish a presence in the Panama Canal later this year, marking the first time Iran's military reaches the Pacific Ocean.
Irani states that the US had attempted to block the flotilla from crossing the canal, but Panama ignored threats of sanctions and decided to let the Iranian ships sail through.
The ships temporarily docked in Brazil in mid-March and later continued their journey.
In early February, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told the Washington Free Beacon that his country was closely monitoring Iran's activity in the Panama Canal.
Washington is monitoring "Iran's attempts to have a military presence in the Western Hemisphere," Price said.
For the Brazilian Navy to authorize a foreign vessel to dock in the country, it needs to receive authorization from the Brazilian foreign ministry.
"The [US] sanction was no more than a rant based on international law. They could not even prevent the flotilla from sailing into the Panama Canal ... This was another slap on the face of the Great Satan," Rear Admiral Shahram Irani told Fars news agency on Saturday.
Read more: Brazil allows Iranian ships to dock amid US concerns over Panama Canal
The flotilla, which was comprised of Dena and Makran, successfully completed its mission of sailing across the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans without reliance on other parties.
On February 3, the two ships were identified by OFAC as sanctioned entities due to their affiliation with the IRGC.
It set sail from Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf on September 20, 2022.
The flotilla's journey was completed today its 236th day of voyage and is currently stationed in Oman's Salalah port.
The total distance traveled by the flotilla is recorded at 63,000 kilometers. It reportedly crossed the equator line four times.
Its final destination, Bandar Abbas, will include an additional 2,000 kilometers to the journey.
Read more: In a first, Iran to establish military presence in Panama Canal
On another note, the Navy commander highlighted that France claimed the Iranian flotilla had violated its marine territory, adding that the French were left speechless when the Iranian ships reminded them of their own laws.
"The French have some islands in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, they were not aware of their own regulations and caused disturbances for us, to which we responded with the language of the law," he explained.
"The recent incident was a big blow to the French in the field of international shipping, and they never talked about it."