Iran’s testing of long range missiles and a veiled threat to close access to the Persian Gulf have ratcheted up tensions with the West. The Islamic Republic has completed 10 days of naval exercises aimed at showcasing its military capabilities.
Iranian Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said:
“It means that the security of Hormuz Strait is in our hands and the Strait is under our control, that is crystal clear. But we have always maintained that the goal of the drills is to provide the region with stable security.”
Some 40 percent of world oil is shipped through the channel at Hormuz, and any action to close it would have a dramatic impact on crude prices. Western analysts say Iran’s rhetoric is aimed at sending a message to the West that it should think twice about the economic cost of imposing further sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme.
The Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the maritime manoeuvres were evidence that sanctions were working and repeated his call for even tougher economic measures.
Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity and not developing weapons, as the West fears.