TEHRAN, April 22 (UPI) -- Iran began its war games Thursday amid claims by its supreme religious leader that the U.S. nuclear strategy is tantamount to threats to the Iranian people.
The Iranian military said its military exercise was a 3-day naval, ground and air war game in the Persian Gulf, including the Strait of Hormuz, a through which a large percentage of the world's oil passes, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Brig. Gen. Hussein Salami, deputy chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, said that the exercise was designed to show "Iran's strength and will against the threats of the enemies," government-backed Fars news agency reported.
Iran has refused to suspend its nuclear program despite calls by the United States and other Western countries that additional tougher sanctions to be imposed on top of existing U.N. sanctions.
Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said U.S. President Barack Obama's nuclear strategy outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review presented "atomic threats against Iranian people." Khamenei was referring to a section that said non-nuclear nations would never be threatened by a U.S. nuclear strike as long as they complied with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty as judged by the United States, the Times said.
"How can the U.S. president make atomic threats against Iranian people?" Khamenei said. "This threat is a threat against humanity and international peace and no one in the world should dare to articulate such words."
In Washington, Gary Samore, senior presidential adviser and senior director for non-proliferation, told the Times the review's wording to exclude Iran and North Korea from the guarantee wasn't a threat but created an incentive for the countries to come into compliance with the treaty.