A new homegrown military submarine Fateh (Conqueror) is going through final tests and will soon join the Iranian naval forces, Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami has said. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the new Iranian defense minister added that the 527-ton Fateh submarine is a semi-heavy undersurface vessel. The submarine reportedly is equipped with an advanced sonic radar system which can identify enemy vessels and uses a missile defense system.

Comment: The Iranian Navy announced in April that it was manufacturing a missile-launching warship called Separ and a submarine named Fateh. Iranian leaders often exaggerate about the country’s power and capabilities, particularly its naval assets and their presence in international waters. But the Islamic Republic has put increased emphasis on developing its naval capabilities in recent years. Sanctions relief from the lifting of nuclear-related international sanctions in January 2016 may also have helped Tehran to invest more on its Navy, including on warships and submarines.

Moreover, a new report by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence warned in March that Iran would be able to purchase warships, submarines and advanced missiles to further boost its naval power after 2020, when the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 prohibiting Iran from acquiring advanced offensive weaponry is set to expire. “Over the next five years, new weapons will likely include submarine-launched ASCMs, the Hoot supercavitating torpedo, and potentially a supersonic ASCM, which Iran claims is in development. After 2020, Iran may look to foreign acquisitions of ships and submarines with a wide array of weapons suites,” the 42-page study said. The U.S. Navy report suggests three key factors – the status of the Iran nuclear agreement, the price of oil and leadership changes in Tehran – will determine Iran’s naval strategy and acquisitions in the future.

In May, American defense officials also claimed that a “midget” submarine from which Iran in May tried to launch a cruise missile was built on a North Korean design. The Iranian launch of Jask-2 missile, the first underwater missile launch by Iran to date, reportedly was unsuccessful. Pyongyang successfully launched a missile from a submarine for the first time two years ago. The ballistic missile Iran test fired in late January – which triggered a strong response from the Trump administration – was also said to have been based on a North Korean model. Last summer, Iran test-fired another missile similar to a North Korea’s most advanced missile called Musudan.