In the words of its own Chief of Staff, Iran's military strategy is likely to require naval "bases on the coasts of Yemen and Syria." How important is this to Tehran? It is "ten times more important than nuclear power."
The vision was put forward last Saturday by Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri (also spelled "Baqeri"), Chief of Staff for Iran's Armed Forces. He reports directly, and takes direction from, Iran's "Supreme Leader," Ali Khamenie. It is virtually certain that Bagheri's vision for the future is a direct reflection of his country's leaders.
Bagheri comments about Iran's supra-terratorial ambitions were made to "a gathering of senior Navy commanders in Tehran."
Why the priority of Syria and Yemen bases over nuclear weapons? According to Bagheri, they are needed for defensive purposes. As Tasmin, an Iranian news agency, characterized Bagheri's words, "one of [Iran's] main military strategies, which needs to be developed, is blocking the enemy's access to the Iranian territories and forcing their vessels to stay away from the country's coasts."
The words "blocking," and especially "forcing," typically are not defensive terms.
In fact, the "Iranian territories" envisioned by its leaders is vast. Bagheri said that, along with naval bases in Syria and Yemen, his country needs a fleet in the Indian Ocean along with bases, perhaps on manmade "floating" islands.
It is in this broader context that Bagheri posed a rhetorical questions to his country's naval commanders.
"Is having distant bases less [important] than nuclear technology," he asked. "I say it is worth dozens times more."