Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Iran's navy tests cruise missile as part of drill

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran test-fired a surface-to-surface cruise missile Monday in a drill its navy chief said proved Tehran is in complete control of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for one-sixth of the world's oil supply.

The 10-day naval maneuvers, which are scheduled to end today, were Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its nuclear program. Tehran has threatened to close the strait as possible retaliation to new U.S. economic sanctions.

The missile was described as an upgraded version of one that has been in service before. The official IRNA news agency said the missile "successfully hit its intended target."

An earlier version of the same cruise missile had a range of 124 miles and could travel at low altitudes. There were suggestions it could counter the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf.

There have been conflicting comments from Iranian officials about Tehran's intentions to close the Strait of Hormuz and U.S. warnings against such an ominous move.

"The Strait of Hormuz is completely under our control," Iran's navy chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, said after Monday's test. "We do not allow any enemy to pose threats to our interests."

The West fears that Iran's nuclear program aims to develop weapons — a charge Tehran denies, insisting it is for peaceful purposes only.

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