Iran Begins New Military Drills in the Gulf
News Brief – May 5, 2010
Iran began new military drills in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, the second naval exercise in as many weeks.
The new manoeuvres, dubbed "Velayat 89," are scheduled to last eight days and will take place across the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman. In late April, Iran's Revolutionary Guard held five-day manoeuvres in the same waterways.
Iranian Navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Tuesday that the manoeuvres “will display (Iran’s) defensive and deterrent naval power,” while conveying a message of “peace and friendship” to other countries in the region.
Other than being a defensive exercise, the Iranian Navy says "Velayat 89" will also be used to explore ways of dealing with piracy.
Iran's leaders have in the past said that if attacked, the country would respond by shutting off the Strait of Hormuz, the mouth of the Gulf through which 40 percent of the world's oil and gas supplies are estimated to pass.
The exercise comes as the Obama administration is lobbying the U.N. Security Council for tougher measures against Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The West claims Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, although it has yet to provide any conclusive evidence.
Meanwhile Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, such generating power and the production of radioactive isotopes for medical purposes.
Earlier in the week in his address to the United Nations conference on nuclear weapons, President Ahmadinejad rejected the deterrence value of nuclear weapons. Describing them as a “crime against humanity”, he highlighted the fact that the U.S. and Israel have extensive stockpiles of nuclear weapons and that the U.S. is the only power in history to have used them in war.
Unsurprisingly, the corporate media has ignored the thrust of Ahmadinejad’s speech.
Nonetheless, despite repeated Western claims that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, Iran has agreed “in principle” to a Brazilian offer to mediate in a U.N.-brokered nuclear fuel swap deal with world powers.
Turkey has also offered to mediate in the debate over Iran’s nuclear program.
Last updated 10/05/2010