Prior to signing the historic nuclear deal between the EU3+3 (P5+1) and Iran earlier this month, Iran’s propaganda piece, a mock-up of a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, was moved outside the harbor of Bandar Abbas.
Satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe in June shows the mockup floating west of the peninsular breakwaters at the Iranian naval base. The mockup was used in the Great Prophet 9 exercise earlier this year to demonstrate Iran’s resolve in closing the Strait of Hormuz.
The latest space snapshots also confirmed that the “floating barge” had not been repaired at the time of capture. Damage was still visible to the deck and the mock-up control tower.
While it’s still difficult to determine what Iran has in-store for the mock-up, its future use may be limited. The much heralded Iranian nuclear deal could signal a change in US-Iran relations. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani emphasized that the agreement begins “a new chapter” and if carried out correctly could “gradually eliminate distrust”. Such sentiments were echoed by President Obama when he noted: “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”
On the surface, the agreement could potentially tone down Iran’s signaling of an all-out confrontation between the two countries’ naval forces. However, with skeptics and detractors in both countries remaining hostile to the agreement, it may be too early to say.
After 20 months of negotiations, hardliners still believe the agreement has made their countries less secure. The American GOP calls it a “diplomatic failure”, “deeply flawed” and a “historic mistake”. In Iran, the IRGC criticizes the deal as violating Iran’s redlines (even though it potentially improves their grip on the economy).
All of which could suggest that this low fidelity mockup may yet have some role to play. The true test will be after it returns to the ISOICO shipyard.
To dismantle or repair, that remains the question.