Iranian Warships Dock in Brazil

Ships are 'dangerous development and a direct threat to the safety and security of Americans,' Cruz says

Iranian military ship Iris Makran navigates on the coast of Rio de Janeiro as a Brazilian flag flutters in Copacabana Beach, Brazil, February 27, 2023. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
February 28, 2023

Two Iranian warships docked in Brazil on Tuesday, fueling concerns about Tehran’s militarization in the region.

The two ships docked at a port in Rio de Janeiro, after arriving in the Panama Canal last month. The arrival of these ships—both of which are sanctioned by the United States—sets up a potential diplomatic showdown between the Biden administration and Brazil, which could face sanctions for hosting the vessels.

"The docking of Iranian warships in Brazil is a dangerous development and a direct threat to the safety and security of Americans," Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) told the Washington Free Beacon. "These Iranian warships are already sanctioned, and so the port in Rio de Janeiro where they docked is now at risk of crippling sanctions, as are any Brazilian companies that provided them services or accepted payments—and so are all foreign companies that entangle themselves with the port or those Brazilian companies in the future."

Iran’s military presence in Latin America presents a challenge for the Biden administration as it faces down the rise of anti-American dictators in the region. Iran has increasingly sought to boost its ties with Latin American leaders, most notably Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro. By driving warships into the region, Tehran is signaling that it can move its military forces into direct confrontation with America.

"The Biden administration is obligated to impose relevant sanctions, reevaluate Brazil's cooperation with U.S. antiterrorism efforts, and reexamine whether Brazil is maintaining effective antiterrorism measures at its ports," Cruz said. "If the administration does not, Congress should force them to do so."

The State Department told the Free Beacon in January, when Iran first signaled its desire to occupy the Panama Canal, that it is closely monitoring "Iran's attempts to have a military presence in the Western Hemisphere."