Iran yesterday said it had successfully test-fired two long-range missiles in a naval exercise in the Persian Gulf, flexing its military muscle to show it could hit Israel and US bases in the region if attacked.
In response to mounting Western pressure over its nuclear ambitions, Iran started a naval drill in the Gulf last week and warned that it could shut the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions were imposed on its oil exports, the country’s main revenue source.
The 10 days of naval war games and the warning over the Strait, a narrow Gulf shipping lane through which 40 percent of world oil passes, have rattled oil markets and pushed up crude prices.
Analysts say Iran’s increasingly strident rhetoric is aimed at sending a message to the West that it should think twice about the economic cost of putting further pressure on Tehran.
“We have successfully test-fired long-range shore-to-sea and surface-to-surface missiles, called Qader [capable] and Nour [Light] today,” Iranian navy deputy commander Mahmoud Mousavi told state television.
Tehran denies Western accusations that it is trying to build atomic bombs, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.
The US and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to resolve Tehran’s nuclear row with the West.
Iran said yesterday it had no intention to close the Strait of Hormuz, but it has carried out “mock” exercises on shutting the vital waterway.
“No order has been given for the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, but we are prepared for various scenarios,” state television quoted navy chief Habibollah Sayyari as saying.
The US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said it would not allow shipping to be disrupted in the strategic waterway.