iranian missile 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran kicked off new war games and military maneuvers in the strategic Persian Gulf waters on Wednesday, the country's second military show of force in less than a month.
The exercises reflect Iran's desire to flex its military muscle at a time of a deepening standoff with the West over Teheran's controversial nuclear program. The war games, held annually since 2006, also act as a warning, should U.S. or Israel consider a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
The new maneuvers, dubbed "Velayat 89," are to last eight days in the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman and cover about 97,000 square miles (250,000 square kilometers) of Iranian territorial waters, reported state TV.
In late April, Iran's Revolutionary Guard held five-day maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Iran's leaders have in the past said that if attacked, the country would respond by shutting off the Strait of Hormuz, the mouth of the Gulf through which around 40 percent of the world's oil and gas supplies passes, as well as by attacking American bases in the Gulf.
Navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari was quoted by the TV as saying Wednesday that Iran's Navy, backed by the air force, will "show its might" in the latest exercise.
The exercise comes as the Obama administration is lobbying hard at the UN Security Council for tougher punishment of Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can produce either a warhead or fuel for a nuclear reactor.
The West accuses Iran of seeking to build a weapon, a claim Teheran denies, insisting its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, such as power generation.
The exercise also comes against the backdrop of President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's remarks on the sidelines of a nuclear treaty conference at
UN headquarters in New York dismissing the threat of further economic
penalties for Iran.
Ahmadinejad has recently been lobbying China and Russia, the two among
the Security Council's five veto-wielding permanent members that have
been reluctant to endorse further sanctions against Iran, and also
rotating members such as Uganda and Brazil.
As the sole head of state to attend the once-every-five-years Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty gathering, Ahmadinejad argued in New York that
any new sanctions would mean President Barack Obama has given up on his
campaign to engage Iran diplomatically.
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