Iran is hard at work on a replica, non-operational aircraft carrier that looks a lot like the USS Nimitz, Navy officials announced last week.
American intelligence analysts first spotted the Nimitz rip-off in a shipyard near Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf last summer, The New York Times reported.
The faux vessel reportedly has the same shape as the Navy's fleet of Nimitz carriers, complete with the No. 68 painted near the bow.
"Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it’s a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier," Cmdr. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, across the Persian Gulf from Iran, told The Times. "We’re not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?"
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Officials say they don’t believe Iran has the technological capabilities to build an actual aircraft carrier. The Nimitz replica could be a publicity stunt as part of some propaganda campaign.
"[This is] something that Iran could tow to sea, anchor, and blow up — while filming the whole thing to make a propaganda point, if, say, the talks with the Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program go south," The Times noted.
The U.S. reportedly released its information on the Iranian mock-up last week in an effort to "get out ahead of the Iranians."
"They got this barge and threw some wood on top of it to make it look like the USS Nimitz. That's all we know for sure," a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Agence France-Presse
. "We think they're going to try to get some propaganda value out of it. We find it very curious . . . We don't know what Iran hopes to gain by building it."
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