Iran begins Strait of Hormuz navy drill amid tensions with US
Iran launched naval drills at the mouth of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean on Sunday, as tensions with the United States escalated after U.S President Donald Trump put Tehran “on notice”. Since taking office last month, Trump has pledged to get tough with Iran, warning the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table.
Iran’s annual exercises will be held in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Bab el-Mandab and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, to train in the fight against terrorism and piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, according to state media.
Navy ships, submarines and helicopters will take part in the drills across an area of about 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) and marines will showcase their skills along Iran’s southeastern coast.
Millions of barrels of oil are transported daily to Europe, the United States and Asia through the Bab el-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz, waterways that run along the coasts of Yemen and Iran.
U.S.- Iran Conflict
- Iran has had several confrontations recently with US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and around the strait, with the most notable case being Iran’s capture last January of 10 US Navy sailors who had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems.
- Last month, a U.S. Navy destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels near the Strait of Hormuz after they closed in at high speed. The vessels belonged to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards which are not participating in the current war games.
- The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- Trump said earlier this month that “Iran has been put formally put on notice” for firing a ballistic missile, and later imposed new sanctions on Tehran.
- The move comes just two weeks after Western navies held a series of drills off the coast of Iran last week, in a show of force in light of increased Iranian harassment of foreign military vessels.
- The exercises, dubbed “United Trident,” were led by the United Kingdom and included ships from the US, France and Australia. The navies practiced fighting off enemy aerial incursions and mine clearing, as well as live fire drills.