The Iranian military yesterday began a short-range missile drill in the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported, amid heightened regional tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program and a US pressure campaign against the Islamic republic.
The two-day missile drill was being held in the gulf’s southeastern waters.
Two new Iranian-made warships joined the exercise: the Zereh, or “armor,” a missile-launching vessel, and the Makran, a logistics vessel with a helicopter pad named for a coastal region in southern Iran.
Photo: Iranian Army via AP
US President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Trump cited Iran’s ballistic missile program, among other issues, in withdrawing from the accord.
When the US then ramped up sanctions, the Iranian government gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development, as a series of escalating incidents pushed the two countries toward the brink of war at the beginning of the year.
Photo: Iranian Army via AP
Over the past few weeks, Iran has increased its military drills.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Saturday last week held a naval parade in the Persian Gulf and Iran a week earlier held a massive drone maneuver across half of the country.
Also last week, Iran seized a South Korean oil tanker and its crew members in the Gulf, and continues to hold the vessel at an Iranian port.
Iran has apparently sought to increase its leverage over Seoul ahead of negotiations over billions of US dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks tied to US sanctions on Iran.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and imposed new sanctions on several senior Iranian officials.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday said in a televised speech during a Cabinet meeting that US sanctions would fail.
“We are witnessing the failure of a policy, the maximum pressure campaign, economic terrorism,” he said.
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