Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s next round of Persian Gulf naval drills will practice the armed forces’ ability to close the Strait of Hormuz, a lawmaker on parliament’s national security committee was cited by Mehr News as saying.
The elite Revolutionary Guards Corp will start naval exercises Jan. 27 in the Gulf with the aim of enhancing the country’s ability to close the chokepoint into that body of water “in the shortest possible time when the situation requires it,” Mehr cited Esmaeil Kowsari, a member of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, as saying in a report published yesterday.
The drills are planned as tensions mount between the country and the U.S. and European allies over its nuclear program. Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, the defense minister, said the drills will be the “greatest naval war games” to be conducted by the elite corps, Fars news agency reported Jan. 6.
Iran threatened last month to shut the Strait, a transit point for a fifth of oil traded worldwide, if sanctions are imposed on its crude exports in response to the nuclear program. Concern supplies may be disrupted helped boost oil prices, with Brent crude advancing 5.3 percent last week.
Iran last week completed naval exercises by military units outside the Strait, according to reports by Fars. The planned Jan. 27 start for the Revolutionary Guards’ exercises is earlier than that reported for the drills in comments by the corps’ naval commander. The exercises, called “the Great Prophet,” will take place in February, Fars cited Admiral Ali Fadavi as saying on Jan. 5. They will be more extensive than the Dec. 24- Jan. 3 maneuvers by Iran’s navy in the Sea of Oman, he said.
The European Union may agree to an embargo on Iranian oil imports at a meeting on Jan. 30, officials said this week. U.S. sanctions imposed last year aim to cut off dealings with Iran’s banking system, making it difficult for consumers to buy the country’s oil, in an effort to force Iran to abandon nuclear work that the U.S. and allies say may be intended for weapons development.
The EU and the U.S. are joined by the United Nations in levying measures on Iran over the atomic program. Iran says its nuclear efforts are for civilian purposes and to generate electricity.
--Editors: John Deane, Louis Meixler
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