Iran launches four home-made submarines

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran showed off four new domestically made small submarines Sunday that Tehran said would bolster its defense capability as it vows to confront any military threat from countries opposed to its nuclear program.

State-run Press TV showed the submarines sailing from an Iranian port. Iran’s fleet of the 120-tonne Ghadir-class vessels, first produced in 2007, now numbered 11, it said.

They have “excellent shallow depth performance, and can carry out long-term coastal missions,” Press TV said.

“With the mass production of this submarine alongside various guided-missile launchers the country’s defensive production chain is complete,” Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said.

“These capabilities will be used to served peace, stability and security in the Persian Gulf region and the Sea of Oman.”

The launch of the new submarines comes as Iranian officials deliver daily messages of defiance to the potential threat of a strike by Israel or the United States against the nuclear program Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

Iran has said it could close the Strait of Hormuz -- the gateway to the Gulf through which 40 percent of the world’s traded oil travels -- if it comes under attack.

Press TV said Iran also has three Russian-built Kilo class submarines and operates another homemade 500-tonne submarine in its patrol missions in the Gulf.

Reporting by Robin Pomeroy