This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran on February 22 opened large-scale naval drills at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, state media reported, adding that the maneuvers will feature submarine cruise-missile launches for the first time.
State agency IRNA said that more than 100 vessels were participating in the three-day drills held in an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean.
Iran has in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action.
“The exercise will cover confronting a range of threats, testing weapons, and evaluating the readiness of equipment and personnel,” Iranian navy chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said on state television.
“Submarine missile launches will be carried out…in addition to helicopter and drone launches from the deck of the Sahand destroyer,” Khanzadi said.
State media said the military would be testing its new domestically built Fateh (Conqueror) submarine, which was launched last week and is said to be armed with cruise missiles.
U.S. President Donald Trump in May withdrew from a landmark 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Trump said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles.