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EYEBALL TO EYEBALL OVER OIL STRAIT!

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Strait of Hormuz sizzles as Tehran rebuffs US, says it will test- fire all kinds of surface- to- sea, sea- to- sea and surface- to- air as well as shoulder- launched missiles in the final stages of the war games

Tehran

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P> Iran on Saturday kept tensions simmering over its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers by readying war game missile tests near the entrance to the Gulf, AFP reports.

Washington has warned a closure of the strait ” will not be tolerated” after Iranian Vice President Reza Rahimis threat this week that ” not a of oil” will pass through the channel if more Western sanctions are imposed over Tehrans nuclear programme.


Iran has brushed off the warning from the United States, which bases its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf, with Iranian navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari saying it would be ” really easy” to close the strait.

A spokesman for the Iranian navy, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, told state television on Saturday that, ” in the next days, we will test- fire all kinds of surfaceto- sea, sea- to- sea and surface- to- air as well as shoulder- launched missiles” in the final stages of the war games.

He did not say exactly when the launches would start, but explained they would involve tests of ” medium- and long- range missiles” to evaluate their operational effectiveness.

The navy exercises started December 24 and are due to end on Monday.

Twenty percent of the worlds oil moves through the Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance of the Gulf, making it the ” most important chokepoint” globally, according to information released Friday by the US Energy Information Administration.

Around 14 crude oil tankers per day pass through the narrow strait, carrying a total 17 million barrels. In all, 35 percent of all seaborne oil transited through there this year.

Analysts and oil market traders have been watching developments in and around the Strait of Hormuz carefully, fearing that the intensifying war of words between arch foes Tehran and Washington could spark open confrontation.

With tensions rising, the United States said it has signed a $ 29.4- billion deal to supply Irans chief rival in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, with 84 new fighter jets.

The sale was a ” strong message” to the Gulf region, Washington said.

Iran is subject to four rounds of UN sanctions over its nuclear programme, which many Western countries allege is being used to develop atomic weapons.

Tehran denies the allegation.

The United States and its allies have also imposed unilateral sanctions on Irans economy.

US President Barack Obama is expected to soon sign into law additional restrictions on Irans central bank, which acts as the main conduit for Iranian oil sales.