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News number: 8709121583

18:27 | 2008-12-02


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Iran Starts Large-Scale Naval Drills

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's naval forces on Tuesday started a large-scale naval exercise involving over 60 warships in the Persian Gulf.

The 5-day-long maneuver started today with the deployment of troops in and around the strategic Straight of Hormoz and the troops are scheduled to officially start their drills on Wednesday.

"Over 60 combat vessels will take part in the exercise, codenamed "Unity 87", in the Gulf of Oman," Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said yesterday.

The four-stage exercise will involve destroyers, missile boats, submarines, helicopters, fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

"The goal of the exercise is to improve the combat readiness of the Iranian navy to counter potential external threats and to test modern weaponry developed by the Iranian defense industry," the Admiral said.

Sayyari confirmed last week the delivery of two new domestically-built missile boats, Kalat (Fortress) and Derafsh (Flag), as well as a Ghadir-class light submarine to the Iranian navy.

Iran has launched a domestic weapons procurement campaign aimed at improving its defense capabilities and has announced the development of 109 types of advanced military equipment over the past two years.

Tehran has conducted several high-profile war games this year, while promising to strike back hard against in the event of any attack.

Last week, Sayyari said that "All the movements of the enemy in Oman Sea, Persian Gulf and Hormuz Strait are under control and the enemy will never dare to enter Iran's waters."

The Bush administration and the Zionist regime of Israel have intensified threats of military action against Iran during the last two years.

US forces attacked a Syrian village near the borders with Iraq on October 26, and the raid on Sukkariyah, which took place almost simultaneously with an air raid on a Pakistani village, has raised speculation about the likelihood of similar unilateral strikes by the US troops on other regional states, including the Islamic Republic.

Speculation that Israel could also bomb Iran mounted after a big Israeli air drill in June. In the first week of June, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran has warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran's progress in the field of nuclear technology.

Iran has warned that in case of an attack by either the US or Israel, it will target 32 American bases in the Middle East and close the strategic Strait of Hormoz.

An estimated 40 percent of the world's oil supply passes through the waterway.

In a Sep. 11 report, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy says that in the two decades since the Iran-Iraq War, the Islamic Republic has excelled in naval capabilities and is able to wage unique asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.
According to the report, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) has been transformed into a highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed force and is effectively in control of the world's oil lifeline, the Strait of Hormuz.

The study says that if Washington takes military action against the Islamic Republic, the scale of Iran's response would likely be proportional to the scale of the damage inflicted on Iranian assets.

Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities "is unlikely" to delay the country's program.

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