Iran naval drills designed to send message to US: general

The general overseeing US military operations in the Middle East said Wednesday that an Iranian naval exercise around the Strait of Hormuz was meant to send a message to Washington before it reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Iran launched the exercise in the Gulf last week, sending dozens of small attack boats out into the Strait of Hormuz -- a vital, oil-shipping waterway that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last month threatened to shut down.

"It's pretty clear to us that they were trying to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach the period of the sanctions here that they had some capabilities," US Central Command head General Joseph Votel told Pentagon reporters.

The capabilities include ocean mines, explosive boats, coastal defense missiles and radars, he said.

Votel said he saw Qassem Soleimani, who heads the external operations Quds Force for Iran's Revolutionary Guards, as being responsible for the exercise.

"He is an individual who is perpetrating a lot of this destabilizing activity," Votel said.

"Wherever you see Iranian activity, you see Qassem Soleimani."

The United States on Tuesday reimposed sanctions on Iran, after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran.

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Iran, US trade warnings as sanctions on Tehran set to take effect
Tehran (AFP) Aug 6, 2018
The leaders of Iran and the United States traded accusations Monday as the clock ticked down to Washington's reimposition of sweeping sanctions on Tehran, which dismissed Donald Trump's offer of talks on a new nuclear deal. After Trump told Iran to change its "destabilizing" behavior or risk further economic isolation - while leaving the door open to negotiation - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused America of "psychological warfare." The comments all came as Iran braces for the return of ... read more

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