This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran’s military has launched short-range naval missile drills in the Gulf of Oman, state media reported, amid heightened tension between Tehran and Washington.
State TV said on January 13 that the logistics warship Makran, described as Iran’s largest military vessel with a helicopter pad, and the missile-launching ship Zereh (armour) were taking part in the two-day exercises.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have risen since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from an international nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, arguing that the 2015 accord did not go far enough.
The U.S. administration also imposed crippling sanctions on Iran in a bid to force Tehran to negotiate a new agreement that would also address the country’s missile programs and its support for regional proxies.
In response to the U.S. pullout and economic sanctions, Iran, which claims its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, has gradually breached parts of the pact such as uranium enrichment saying it is no longer bound by it.
In a televised speech during a cabinet meeting on January 13, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that U.S. sanctions would fail.
“We are witnessing the failure of a policy, the maximum pressure campaign, economic terrorism,” Rohani said.
The previous day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that Iran has given support to Al-Qaeda and safe haven to its leaders, despite some skepticism within the intelligence community and Congress.
Pompeo did not provide hard evidence to back up his claims, made a week before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
Biden has suggested that Washington may reenter the nuclear deal — under which Tehran committed to limit its nuclear activities in return for relief from sanctions — if Iran complies with its terms.
But Iranian officials insist that the United States should first lift its sanctions.