Iran to hold new wargames in key oil waterway in weeks
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
Iranian navy conducts the "Velayat-90" naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on January 1, 2012. AFP PhotoIran is to hold fresh military exercises in and around the strategic Strait of Hormuz within weeks, the naval commander of its powerful Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying on Friday.
The manoeuvres are to be held in the Iranian calendar month that runs from January 21 to February 19, the Fars news agency quoted Ali Fadavi as saying.
They will underline Iran's assertion that it has "full control over the Strait of Hormuz area and controls all movements in it," Fadavi added.
The announcement -- which narrowed down a timeframe for the exercises the Guards had previously only given as "soon" -- risked aggravating tensions with the West over the strait.
The waterway is the world's "most important chokepoint" for oil tankers, according to the US Energy Information Administrations. Some 20 percent of the world's oil flows through the narrow channel at the entrance to the Gulf.
Iran's regular navy completed 10 days of wargames to the east of the strait, in the Gulf of Oman, early this week with tests of three anti-ship missiles.
Iran's military and political leaders have warned they could close the strait if increased Western sanctions halt Iranian oil exports.
The navy has also warned it will react if the United States tries to redeploy one of its aircraft carriers to the waterway.
The Revolutionary Guards, who use high-speed skiffs mounted with missile launchers and other lightweight vessels, periodically hold manoeuvres in and around the Strait of Hormuz.
The last ones took place in July 2011 and included the firing of several anti-ship missiles, including two Khalij Fars missiles with a range of 300 kilometres (190 miles).
Fadavi did not give details of the new manoeuvres.
"The 7th in the series of Great Prophet Manoeuvres will be conducted in the area of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. They will have significant differences from the previous ones," Fars quoted him as saying.