TEHRAN - Iran's navy said on Wednesday it had launched a new home-produced submarine, the first in a class named "Ghadir", Tehran's latest claim of military progress at a time of mounting tensions with the West.
"This advanced submarine is equipped with the latest military and technological equipment," navy chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari was quoted as saying by state media.
"It was built after 10 years of design work. Its capabilities are equal to those of foreign types." No further details were given.
State television pictures showed a submarine submerging and then resurfacing. It was not clear if the pictures were of "Ghadir", which is named after a Muslim holiday.
In March 2006, the navy deployed a submarine named Narhang (Whale) but the pictures broadcast by state media at the time showed it was a minisub.
According to foreign military experts, Iran's inventory of submarines patrolling Gulf waters already includes up to three Russian-built Kilo class diesel submarines.
Iran has been extolling its military prowess amid increasing tensions over its nuclear programme, which the United States charges is aimed at making a nuclear weapon. Tehran insists the drive is peaceful.
Iran said on Tuesday that it had built a new "Ashura" missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles), sufficient to put Israel and US bases in the Middle East within easy reach.
The United States has never ruled out a military attack against Iran to punish its years of defiance in the nuclear crisis, even though Washington says it favours resolving the standoff through diplomacy.
The Islamic republic has said it will never initiate any attack but has also warned it will strike back with crushing force if the United States launches an assault.
But Sayari has said Tehran has no plans to block the Strait of Hormuz amid fears it could use the strategic oil passage as a weapon in its nuclear standoff with the West.