Iran has tested missiles near the Strait of Hormuz, underlining its threats to close the vital oil-transit waterway as the West readies to impose more economic sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear drive.
The launch of three missiles took place on the final day of war games in waters east of the strait at the entrance to the Gulf, official media and a navy spokesman, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi said.
France said the tests sent a “very bad signal to the international community” and stressed the Strait of Hormuz must remain open to shipping.
The United States, which keeps its Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf, has warned it will not tolerate a closure of the strategic channel.
Two of the missiles tested on Monday, January 2, can fly a maximum 200 kilometres, generally considered short-range, though Iranian media and Mousavi described one of them, a Qader ground-to-ship cruise missile, as a “long-range” weapon.
The other missile tested on Monday, January 2, a Nasr anti-ship missile, had a shorter range of 35 kilometres.
On Sunday, January 1, a medium-range surface-to-air missile was also test-fired during the exercises, according to Mousavi.
The display of military muscle was designed to show Iran’s ability to close the Strait of Hormuz – through which 20 per cent of the world’s oil flows – if it chooses.
Iranian political and military officials insist they could take that drastic step if the West imposes more sanctions, on top of others that have already taken their toll on Iran’s oil-dependent economy.
The United States and its allies have imposed their sanctions to punish Iran for maintaining a nuclear program they believe masks military objectives.
Tehran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear activities are exclusively for energy generation and for making medical isotopes, AFP reported.