Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Iran begins naval drills in Strait of Hormuz

LinkIran's navy has started a 10-day drill in international waters near the strategic oil route that passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The exercises, dubbed "Velayat 90", could bring Iranian ships into proximity with United States Navy vessels in the area. "Velayat" is a Persian word for "supremacy" and it is currently used as a title of deference for the Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The war games cover a 2,000km stretch of sea off the Strait of Hormuz, northern parts of the Indian Ocean and into the Gulf of Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea, state television reported.

The drill will be Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its controversial nuclear programme, which the West fears is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Tehran denies those charges, insisting the program is for peaceful purposes only.

Adm Habibollah Sayyari, the navy chief, said Iran is holding the drill to show off its prowess and defense capabilities.

"To show off its might, the navy needs to be present in international waters. It's necessary to demonstrate the navy's defense capabilities," state TV quoted Sayyari as saying. Read More