Iran Says It Owns Antarctica; How And Why Did This Claim Happen

Iran’s recent assertion of ownership over Antarctica has sent shockwaves throughout the international community. The declaration by Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, outlining Iran’s plans to establish a presence in the South Pole, has ignited widespread concern and speculation. 

This unexpected move by Tehran has prompted many to question the motivations behind such a claim and the potential ramifications it could have on global geopolitics. The mere notion of a military presence in Antarctica, a continent historically dedicated to scientific research and peaceful cooperation, has raised eyebrows and spurred intense scrutiny of Iran’s intentions.

Iran’s Claim And Ambitions

Antarctica, the world’s southernmost and fifth-largest continent, has been the subject of exploration and territorial claims by various nations over time. However, on December 1, 1959, a landmark agreement known as the Antarctic Treaty was signed by a dozen nations, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the United States, and the Soviet Union. This treaty aimed to preserve Antarctica for peaceful purposes, scientific research, and international cooperation, prohibiting military activities, nuclear testing, and mineral exploration while promoting environmental conservation.

Also Read: Oscar-Winning Movie Actress Arrested In Iran For Her Instagram Post


Iran’s naval chief, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, made headlines when he asserted Iran’s ownership rights in Antarctica, expressing intentions to raise the Iranian flag. Irani’s remarks, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), also hinted at plans for constructing a naval base in the South Pole.  Irani declared Iran’s “property rights” in the South Pole. Iran’s recent assertion of ownership over Antarctica, articulated by its naval chief Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, has raised eyebrows worldwide.

Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, addressing the 86th flotilla during a ceremony commemorating “sacred defence” week, articulated Iran’s plan to raise its national flag in the icy expanses of the South Pole. Speaking to The National, Irani outlined the strategic importance of establishing a presence in Antarctica, emphasizing the need for environmental studies and logistical preparations before proceeding with the construction of a naval base in the region.

This proclamation aligns with Iran’s broader agenda of expanding its naval capabilities and extending its reach far beyond its traditional sphere of influence. Notably, Rear Commander Habibollah Sayyari underscored Iran’s maritime ambitions, emphasizing the country’s capability to project power from the North Pole to the South Pole. Sayyari’s remarks, quoted by state Press TV, reflect Iran’s determination to safeguard its interests in international waters while maintaining a stance of non-aggression towards other nations’ maritime borders. This strategic posturing comes amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf, with Iran responding to perceived threats posed by increased American naval presence in the region.

Iran’s naval expansion has been steadily underway since 2008, marked by patrols in the Gulf of Aden aimed at countering piracy and protecting Iranian-owned commercial vessels. The recent passage of Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, a feat not seen in decades, signifies a significant milestone in Iran’s maritime capabilities, extending its reach to the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, Iranian vessels now operate in the northern Indian Ocean, further solidifying Iran’s presence in key strategic waterways. These developments underscore Iran’s ambitions to assert itself as a regional naval power, capable of safeguarding its interests and projecting influence across international maritime domains.

Concerns And Expert Analysis

Experts have voiced apprehensions about Iran’s aspirations in Antarctica. Yonah Jeremy Bob, a senior military and intelligence analyst, highlighted the potential violation of international conventions and the continuation of Iran’s aggressive behavior on a global scale. Bob stated to Fox News Digital, “Iran’s future plans to try to expand its military presence and influence into the Antarctic would not only violate multilateral conventions on the issue but continues the regime’s trend of aggression across the globe.” He added, “Whether through terrorism on basically every continent or its rampant piracy in the maritime arena, the Islamic Republic continues to show why it is a danger to world stability and why Israel and the Mossad’s role in holding it back from nuclear weapons remains critical.”

He further highlighted, “Antarctica might seem a distant threat, but if the West acts as meekly as it did when Iran recently kicked out nuclear weapons inspectors, the Islamic Republic will only become further emboldened on other track.” 

Potkin Azarmehr, an Iran expert, drew parallels between Iran’s ambitions and the decline of the USSR, emphasizing misplaced priorities and grandiose plans amidst internal challenges. Azarmehr commented, “Everything in Iran is reminiscent of the USSR in its last days before collapse. Ambitious but pointless plans by a state with completely wrong priorities. Unable to provide basic services to its people, bankrupt institutions but full of grandiose talks.”

International Response And Safeguards

The international community has responded cautiously to Iran’s assertion over Antarctica. The United States, through its State Department, reiterated restrictions on the use of Iranian funds for activities in Antarctica, emphasizing the need to safeguard the continent’s delicate environment. Iran’s release of $6 billion in assets stored in Qatar has raised concerns about the potential use of these funds for military purposes, including establishing a base in Antarctica. Fox News sought clarification from the State Department, prompting a firm response: “No. Iran’s funds held in Qatar may not be used for any activities in Antarctica.” The spokesperson emphasized that the released funds are earmarked exclusively for humanitarian purposes, such as purchasing food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural products.

Criticism of President Joe Biden’s decision to release the Iranian funds intensified amid accusations that it provided resources leading up to Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, previously asserted that Iran funds Hamas, adding to the controversy surrounding the release of Iranian assets.

Iran’s claim of ownership over Antarctica raises significant questions about its geopolitical ambitions and the potential repercussions for global stability. While Tehran’s intentions remain unclear, its pursuit of Antarctic interests signals a broader pattern of assertiveness and expansionism. As tensions persist in the Middle East and beyond, the international community must closely monitor Iran’s activities in Antarctica and uphold the principles of international law to ensure the preservation of Antarctica’s unique status as a symbol of peace and scientific cooperation.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: Firstpost, Hindustan Times, Live Mint

Find the blogger: Katyayani Joshi

This post is tagged under: Antarctica, property, Iran, The US, Hamas, State Department, international law, scientific cooperation, peace, naval base, south pole, Joe Biden, Antarctica Treaty, Shahram Irani, Tehran, owned, claim, Iran claims Antarctica

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