January 3, 2012 by staff
Ten days of naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most sensitive waterways, ended with a flourish following the launch of Tehran’s latest surface-to-surface missile, known as the Qader, which is believed to have a range of 200 kilometres. Two more missiles of shorter range were fired later in the day, following the testing of a medium-range surface-to-air missile on Sunday.
Western powers were swift to condemn the war games, with France describing them as a “very bad signal to the international community.”
Mohammed Reza Rahimi, the vice-president, last week threatened to blockade the strait, the narrowest point of the Gulf, if the U.S. and EU persisted with a plan to impose tougher sanctions. With nearly a third of the world’s tanker-borne oil supplies passing through the strait, such a move could cripple the global economy. Even the threat of a blockade caused energy prices to soar.
Despite the mounting international criticism, the Iranian regime remained unapologetic. Although military officials denied that a blockade was imminent, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of the Iranian fleet, boasted that the exercises had sent an unmistakable message to the West about what could happen if Tehran’s hand was forced.
“We held the war game to maintain stable security in the region so everyone would discern the Islamic Republic of Iran’s capability and deterrent power in defending its borders in open seas and the Strait of Hormuz,” he said.
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