Iran Announces Long-range Missile Test Amid Strait of Hormuz Row With U.S.

Ten-day Iranian military drill overshadowed by Iran-U.S. verbal row over an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which 40% of the world's ship-borne crude oil is passed.

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Amid a verbal row with the United States over blocking the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping route, Iran proclaimed on Friday that it will start testing long range missiles in the Persian Gulf.

"On Saturday morning the Iranian navy will test several of its long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf," navy deputy commander Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi told Fars news agency.

A Saegheh ground-to-sea missile is fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guard during a military maneuver, April 25, 2010. Credit: AP

The testing of the missiles is part of ongoing navy maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and, according to Moussavi, the main and final phase is preparing the navy for confronting the enemy in a warlike situation.

The maneuver has been overshadowed by a verbal row between Iran and the US over an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which 40 per cent of the world's ship-borne crude is passed.

The spark for the row was a Tuesday remark by Iranian Vice President Mohammd-Reza Rahimi that, "if Western countries sanctioned Iranian oil, then Iran would not allow one drop of oil to cross the Strait of Hormuz."

Following his remarks, Iranian navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari said, although there was currently no necessity for Iran to close the strait, "it would be as easy as drinking a glass of water."

After the U.S. Navy said it would not accept any Iranian disruption of the free flow of goods through Hormuz, Iran continued the war of words with Revolutionary Guard deputy chief Hossein Salami saying that the U.S. was in no position to tell Iran what to do.

Salami also called the U.S. "an iceberg which is to be melted by the high degree of the Iranian revolution," and "a sparrow in the body of a dinosaur."

Neither President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nor the ministries of defense and foreign affairs have so far commented on the issue.

The only official comments on the matter came last week, before the exchange of words, from Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, who said that closing the Hormuz has never been on Iran's agenda.

However, he added: "if the region would face a warlike situation, then everything would then become warlike."

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