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Business News/ News / World/  Iran claims ‘property rights’ to Antarctica, plans to build naval base
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Iran claims ‘property rights’ to Antarctica, plans to build naval base

Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani announced in September last year that Tehran owned Antarctica and would set up a military operation there, Fox News reported on Thursday.

Iran's plans to try to expand its military presence and influence into the Antarctic will violate multilateral conventions on the issue. (AFP)Premium
Iran's plans to try to expand its military presence and influence into the Antarctic will violate multilateral conventions on the issue. (AFP)

Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani announced in September last year that the country owned Antarctica and would build a military operation there, Fox News reported on Thursday.

"We have property rights in the South Pole. We have plan to raise our flag there and carry out military and scientific work," Fox News quoted Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani as saying then.

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In a response to a query, if the recent US unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian funds held in Qatar could be used by Tehran to set up a base in the South Pole, the US State Department spokesperson said no.

"No. Iran’s funds held in Qatar may not be used for any activities in Antarctica," the spokesperson said, adding that "those funds can only be used to purchase humanitarian goods, meaning food, medicine, medical devices and agricultural products".

Iran observers said that despite Tehran’s aggressive behaviour in the Middle East and across the globe, the Biden administration released $6 billion in sanctions relief to the Gulf country ahead of the Iran-backed Hamas massacre of 1,200 people in Israel on October 7 last year.

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"Iran's future plans to try to expand its military presence and influence into the Antarctic would not only violate multilateral conventions on the issue, but continues the regime's trend of aggression across the globe," Fox News quoted Yonah Jeremy Bob, author of "Target Tehran" and a senior Jerusalem Post military and intelligence analyst as saying.

"Whether through terrorism on basically every continent or its rampant piracy in the maritime arena, the Islamic Republic continues to show why it is a danger to world stability and why Israel and the Mossad's role in holding it back from nuclear weapons remains critical," he said.

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"Every time Tehran expands its tentacles into a new area to disrupt the rules-based order promoted by the West, the US and its allies are given an additional opportunity to take the nuclear threat more seriously. Antarctica might seem a distant threat, but if the West acts as meekly as it did when Iran recently kicked out nuclear weapons inspectors, the Islamic Republic will only become further emboldened on other track," he added. 

“In theory, Iran could claim an interest in Antarctica similar to India’s, Australia’s, New Zealand’s or Chile’s (or those of the UK and France, for that matter), with their island outposts in the southern hemisphere," Jennifer Dyer, a retired commander of US Naval Intelligence, told Fox News.

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"I can say that raising the flag at the South Pole doesn’t carry any implications in international law. The Antarctic Treaty (which became effective in 1961) has a specific provision that no action by any nation after 1961 can be the basis of a territorial claim on the continent," he added.

"Iran isn’t a signatory to the treaty and might try to do frisky things in Antarctica," Dyer noted. "Those things wouldn’t be recognized by other nations, at least as matters stand now.

It is important to note that the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, India, China and Russia are all signatories to the treaty, besides Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Australia and New Zealand, the countries close to the continent.

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Published: 15 Feb 2024, 07:31 PM IST
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