Iran successfully launched a new high-tech torpedo Tuesday, concluding a series of massive naval drills that took place in nearby national and international waters since early February as tensions between Tehran and Washington remained high.
The drills, known as Velayat 95, spanned an estimated 770,000 square miles across the Straight of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman and the northern stretch of the Indian Ocean. The exercises gave the Iranian military the opportunity to test the latest variant of its domestically-manufactured Valfajr missile, which it reportedly fired from a Ghadir-class submarine, destroying at least one target vessel on the surface. The projectile was capable of carrying ballistic warheads weighing about 485 pounds, according to Iran's state-owned Mehr News Agency.
"The aim of the Velayat 95 drill is to upgrade the country’s defensive capabilities and send Iran’s message of peace and friendship to the regional countries,” Iran's Navy Commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said, according to Iran's government-associated Press TV.
The drills, which began Sunday, were one of 20 Habibollah pledged in June to hold before March 2017, according to RT, and also saw Iranian naval forces test out other high-tech projectiles including the Nasr cruise missile and Dehlaviyeh, the Iranian version of the Russian-made 9M133 Kornet anti-tank missile. The war games also coincided with major military exercises held Wednesday by the elite Revolutionary Guards that included an array of laser-guided missiles, tanks and armored vehicles.
While a report released Friday by the U.N.'s nuclear monitor, the International Atomic Energy Agency verified Iran's claims that it had not broken its commitments to the 2015 nuclear treaty signed with the U.S. and several other major powers, Tehran's recent military drills and missile tests earlier this month have angered President Donald Trump. Trump, along with a number of hardline conservatives, has been a vocal critic of the nuclear deal, claiming it did not go far enough to limit Iran's access to nuclear weapons development. Trump has threatened to renegotiate or even tear up the agreement, something Iranian leadership, which has routinely denied pursuing nuclear arms, has rebuked.
In a clear message to Trump, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said earlier this month that Iran would not attack first, but would defend itself if provoked.
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