WASHINGTON – Iran is constructing a simulated American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and according to US intelligence sources, Iran's aim is to blow it up and later claim it has sunk an American aircraft carrier.
According to American sources, the sinking of the ship is designed for propaganda purposes, in case the nuclear program negotiations fail and the military tensions between Washington and Tehran intensify.
The New York Times reported Friday that American satellite images initially revealed the vessel in the Persian Gulf last summer, and its contours resemble the US Nimitz-class carrier. Mock planes were spotted on deck, which is about two-thirds the length of a typical Nimitz, and has no nuclear propulsion system.
US intelligence sources claimed, however, that Iran is not capable of building an aircraft carrier. "Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it's a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier," said Jason Salata, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, across the Persian Gulf from Iran.
The Americans are unsure of the purpose behind the building of the nonworking aircraft carrier, but speculate Iran could orchestrate its sinking. Thus, they decided to stay ahead and expose the vessel and prevent black propaganda.
According to US Navy officials, Iran has previously used barges as targets for missile firings during training exercises, filmed the events and then broadcasted them on the state-run news media.
NYT further reported that the Americans are not surprised by Iran's use of various tactics, including military deception, to demonstrate its determination to remain dominant in the Persian Gulf. The Iranians have made no effort to conceal the construction of the mock aircraft carrier. Their shipyard is fully exposed to American and other satellites.
It seems American analysts are not concerned about the decoy ship, but of the fact the Iranian are building it openly for concealed purposes. It is unclear when this nonworking vessel, whose construction is almost complete, will make the short way from the shipyard, several hundred meters, to the Persian Gulf waters.