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Iranian navy starts war games to demonstrate strength at sea

By
Clyde Hughes
The Iranian navy began a series of war games Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz. File Photo by EPA-EFE
The Iranian navy began a series of war games Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz. File Photo by EPA-EFE

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The Iranian navy on Thursday launched a week-long series of war games in the Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman, which it said will demonstrate Tehran's maritime strength.

Iranian navy Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi said the exercises will feature, among other things, a submarine that can fire cruise missiles.

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"Missiles with different ranges will be launched from warships and for the first time submarine-launched missiles will also be practiced," he said, the Iran-based Mehr News Agency reported reported.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani boasted this week the Iranian-built submarine Fatah, or Conqueror, has the ability to fire the missiles.

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"For the first time, these weapons will be tested seriously and we can make the maritime region unsafe for the enemy in any way possible," Khanzadi said, adding that the training exercises would prepare Tehran's navy to deal with external threats, display power and establish a level of readiness. He also said submarines, warships, helicopters and surveillance planes will participate in the drill.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei encouraged Tehran's armed forces this month to increase their military capabilities.

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"The Islamic Republic of Iran does not intend to start a war against anyone," Khamenei said in a report by The Jerusalem Post. "But you should increase your capabilities to the extent that not only does the enemy fear attacking Iran but also the shadow of war against the Iranian nation will fade away."

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Tensions have increased between the United States in Iran since President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Thursday, Iran's foreign ministry said the international community has grown tired of U.S. "unilateralism."

"The fact that China, Russia and Europe are standing up to the U.S., at least on the political stage, is a step forward and heralds a change in global conditions compared to the past," ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.

He criticized sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after the U.S. withdrawal from the pact as hostile and said the administration's policies in the Middle East have been disastrous for Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestinians.

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