Iran’s military on Wednesday launched a short-range naval missile drill, Iranian state TV reported, at a time of high tension between arch foes Tehran and Washington.
Iran has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, regarding such weapons as an important deterrent and retaliatory force against U.S. and other adversaries in the event of war.
The West sees Iran’s missiles both as a conventional military threat to regional stability and a possible delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons should Tehran develop them.
The Iranian-made warship Makran, which state media described as Iran’s biggest warship with a helicopter pad, and a missile-launching ship called Zereh (armour) took part in the two-day Gulf of Oman exercise.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have risen since 2018, when President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal.
The United States restored harsh sanctions to pressure Iran into negotiating stricter curbs on its nuclear programme, ballistic missile development and support for regional proxy forces.
In recent years, there have been periodic confrontations between Iran’s military and U.S. forces in the Gulf, where Tehran holds annual exercises to display her military might to confront “foreign threats”.Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Gulf waters and detained its crew amid tensions between Tehran and Seoul.Iran’s action was in response to Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to the U.S. sanctions.
In early 2019, Iran heightened tensions in the world’s busiest oil waterway by seizing British-flagged tanker Stena Impero.
This followed the interception of an Iranian tanker by a British warship off the coast of Gibraltar two two weeks earlier.