Iran to hold naval exercises in Gulf
Tehran, May 4, 2010
Iran's navy will on Wednesday start eight days of war games in the Gulf and the Sea of Oman, state television said, less than two weeks after the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guards held manoeuvres in the Gulf.
Habibollah Sayari, commander of the navy, said the exercises would display its defence capability, Al Alam television, Iran's Arabic-language satellite television, reported on Tuesday.
The war games coincide with rising tension between Iran and the West, which says Tehran's nuclear work is aimed at making bombs. Iran denies this.
Last month, the Pentagon said US military action against Iran remained an option even as Washington pursues diplomacy and sanctions to halt the country's atomic activities.
Iran often announces advances in its military capabilities and tests weaponry in an apparent bid to show its readiness for any strikes by Israel or the United States.
In exercises held in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz between April 22 and 25, official media said the Guards tested missiles and a new speedboat capable of destroying enemy ships.
The United States is pushing for a fourth round of UN sanctions on Tehran over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear activities as demanded by the UN Security Council.
Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has described Iran's nuclear programme as a threat to its existence and has not ruled out military action.
Iran, a predominantly Shi'ite Muslim state, has said it would respond to any attack by targeting US interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz.
About 40 percent of the world's traded oil leaves the Gulf region through the strategic narrows. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday called on Western countries with nuclear bombs to take 'practical' steps in order to 'disarm and create a global community free of nuclear weapons.'
Ramin Mehmanparast was speaking after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling nuclear weapons 'disgusting and shameful,' urged the United Nations on Monday to punish countries like the United States that threaten to use them. - Reuters