At The Green Room,
If they cross the Atlantic, which seems likely, they will probably make stops in Venezuelaand Cuba at a minimum. To visit Ecuador, another of Iran’s BFFs in Latin America, the task force would have to transit the Panama Canal, an expense Tehran won’t necessarily want to go to. Another potential stop, however, particularly since it has a maritime “hook,” is Nicaragua, where Iran has been eyeing a joint project to develop a port and a cross-isthmus transportation infrastructure (a putative “rival” to the Panama Canal). The two nations professed continued enthusiasm for their interhemispheric romance last month. (For more on Iran in Latin America, see here and here.)
That an Iranian naval task force wouldn’t be able to “do” very much, naval-power-projection-wise, isn’t actually the point with a deployment like this. An embarked helicopter, a few naval guns, a few anti-ship missiles and torpedoes – these weapon systems don’t amount to much in an order-of-battle comparison with the Navy. But the important point is that Iran won’t be venturing out into friendless waters. The geopolitical infrastructure is there to make a deployment like this look like any other major naval power’s task force deployment: with port calls, politicians, pierside ceremonies, bilateral exercises, and youth outreach activities all along the way.
All for “peaceful purposes”, of course.