Iran has prepared a fleet of suicide bomb boats while building up its naval forces in the Gulf, the U.S. naval forces commander to the Middle East said Sunday.
"They have increased the number of submarines … they increased the number of fast attack craft. Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device," U.S. Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters at a briefing in Bahrain.
"The Iranians have a large mine inventory. We have watched with interest their development of long range rockets and shirt, medium and long range ballistic missiles and of course … the development of their nuclear program."
The news that Iran has been upping its military might comes on the heels of a series of threats made by Iranian officials following increased pressure by international bodies and governments to put a stop to the country's nuclear program.
Iran has warned that the country's naval forces would disrupt shipping routes in the Strait of Hormuz, would strike U.S. forces if its oil trade is shut down by heavy sanctions imposed by the U.S. and E.U., and would retaliate against attacks on its disputed nuclear program.
The Gulf's Strait of Hormuz is responsible for shipping nearly 40 percent of the world's oil exports and majority of the world's oil from the Middle East.
Despite the concerns, the U.S. Navy, which has a large fleet patrolling the Gulf, is more powerful than the Iranian navy and Fox believes that the U.S. would be ready to respond to any action on behalf of the Iranian regime.
"We are very vigilant, we have built a wide range of options to give the president and we are ready… What of it happened tonight? We are ready today," Fox told reporters as he stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to issues between the U.S. and Iran.