The government of Lula da Silva in Brazil this week authorized two Iranian ships to dock in Rio de Janeiro and raised questions from Israel and the United States. And, while a response from Brasilia regarding these criticisms is still awaited, new details about the controversial arrival of these vessels have already been revealed in the local press.
according to the newspaper State, the Brazilian government authorized the robbery and sent diplomatic representatives to the frigate IRIS Dena to participate in a celebration on Tuesday for the 120 years of diplomatic relations between Brasilia and Tehran.
And the newspaper remarked that this celebration, which was attended by naval officers and officials from the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was not communicated on official government channels.
The ships IRIS Makran and IRIS Dena have permission to remain in Rio de Janeiro until March 4. On Thursday, one of the ships could be seen in front of the renowned beach area in the south of Rio, while the other remained docked.
The Office for the Control of Foreign Assets of the United States Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions to both vessels last month.
“Israel perceives the heist a few days ago of Iranian warships in Brazil as a dangerous and unfortunate fact”, said, for his part, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Lior Haiat, on his Twitter account. “Brazil should not award any prize to an evil state.”
Haiat’s comments came a day after statements by US State Department spokesman Ned Price. In response to a reporter’s question about the arrival of the ships in Brazil, Price said that Washington is discussing the issue with its Brazilian partners. and he wants to make sure that Iran “is not able to take a position of support, is not able to take advantage of others in our hemisphere.”
“It’s certainly not the case that the government of Brazil, the Brazilian people wanted to do something that would help a government, a regime that is responsible for a brutal and violent repression of its own people,” Kirby added.
The Iranian navy trip comes amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the West over the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and as the Islamic republic is closer than ever to enriching weapons grade uranium.
Iranian officials have described the trip as a challenge to US influence in its own backyard, a longtime sticking point as Tehran continually criticizes the presence of the US Navy’s 5th Flotilla in the region, which patrols the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Speaking to the state news agency IRNAthe commander of the Iranian navy, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, said last January that “the Islamic Republic is not present in two strategic straits of the planet, but this year, the Iranians plan to have a presence in one of them, the Channel of Panama”. The state press has described the trip as a challenge to the “hegemony” of the United States.
Iran is also facing nationwide protests and outcry after the death last September of Masha Amini, a woman who died after being detained by the country’s morality police. Since then, Tehran has tried to deploy its military might elsewhere. Tehran provided drones to Russia, conducted exercises in a border region with Azerbaijan and shelled Kurdish positions in Iraq.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gave priority to international diplomacy in his second presidential term, which ended in 2010. Works included attempts to broker a US-Iran nuclear deal that same year, though negotiations stalled.
After being re-elected as president in October, Lula traveled to Washington last month to demonstrate his alignment with President Joe Biden. Biden’s special envoy on climate matters, John Kerry, also visited the Brazilian capital this week to discuss collaboration on protecting the Amazon rainforest.
In a statement issued Tuesday, US Senator Ted Cruz noted that the United States had already imposed sanctions on the two Iranian vessels, and that the port of Rio de Janeiro and any Brazilian service provider is now at risk of being penalized.
“The federal government is obliged to impose relevant sanctions, reassess Brazil’s cooperation with US counterterrorism efforts and re-examine whether Brazil maintains effective anti-terrorism measures in its ports,” Cruz wrote.
(With information from AP)
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