Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has publicly showcased a large underground missile base near the Persian Gulf coast in a show of force while tensions with Washington reach new heights.

A video broadcast by Iran’s state media on Friday showed the head of the IRGC, Major General Hossein Salami, touring a large underground tunnel lined with missiles and missile launchers.

“What you see today is one of several IRGC Naval strategic missile facilities,” Salami was quoted as saying by the MEHR news agency. “Behind us, you can see a column of these missiles and their launch systems. These columns stretch for kilometers,” Salami added.

“These missiles have ranges of hundreds of kilometers, enjoy pinpoint accuracy and huge destructive power, and can overcome the enemy’s electronic warfare equipment,” Salami said. He added that in the past year, the Iranians had built underground “missile cities” along the Gulf coastline, warning of a “nightmare for Iran’s enemies.”

The Gulf has been a hotspot for years between the Iranians, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Arab countries that border the Islamic Republic. Iran has frequently used its fast attack boats to harass U.S. Navy ships that are traversing the Gulf. 

Just a few hours before the Iranians unveiled their base, the U.S. sent another pair of nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers to overfly the Middle East. This was the fourth time the planes have conducted a flyover since December.

On Monday, it seized a Korean tanker in the Gulf and it recently also conducted its first-ever drone exercise showcasing locally produced unmanned aircraft. 

Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller also reversed an earlier de-escalatory decision for the Nimitz Strike Carrier Group to return to its home base in Washington. Now the Nimitz group is streaming back to the Middle East. 

The Nimitz and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) had been operating off the coast of Somalia in support of 700 American troops’ repositioning from Somalia to elsewhere in East Africa. The ARG consists of USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22), and 2,500 Marines from the Marine Corps 15th Marine Expeditionary Group,

“Due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials, I have ordered the USS Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment,” Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller had said in the statement released on January 3.

“USS Nimitz will now remain on station in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. No one should doubt the resolve of the United States of America,” the secretary had added.

Iran’s parliament passed a law in November that ordered the government to halt inspections of all its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. It also ordered it to step up uranium enrichment to 20 percent beyond the limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal unless the U.S. economic sanctions are eased.

President Trump had withdrawn from the deal in 2018 and imposed severe economic sanctions against the Iranians. The sanctions have effectively crushed the Iranian economy.

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to reinstate the deal. 

However, Biden’s administration will also seek a “follow-on negotiation” over Iran’s ballistic missile program something that Tehran has said is “off the table.”