Claiming “to ensure the stable security of the region,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out war games in the Persian Gulf that included the sinking of a model of an American aircraft carrier, Reuters reported today.
The Shi’ite Muslim Islamic Republic sees the Gulf, between Iran and the Sunni Arab states, as its own backyard and believes it has a legitimate interest in expanding its influence there.
A ceremony marking the exercises was attended by commanders of the Guards, an influential military force led by anti-Western hawks, as well as by parliament speaker Ali Larijani.
“With attention to the situation in the region, we have noticeably expanded the defence budget of the armed forces to ensure the stable security of the region,” Larijani told a news conference before the exercises, according to Fars News.
During the broadcast of the exercises over Iranian state television, a banner flashed across the screen with the quote, “If the Americans are ready to be buried at the bottom of the waters of the Persian Gulf – so be it.” The quote was attributed to the first leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Thirty percent of the world’s oil supply is shipped through the Straits of Hormuz. Reuters reported that U.S. officials were concerned that Iran might attempt to disrupt shipping through the gulf or attack American warships patrolling the region.
The construction of the replica aircraft carrier was reported last year, only months after Iran broadcast a simulation of its forces attacking Israel and the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on state television.
Iran has often threatened American naval forces. Last year, IRGC Navy Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi declared that his navy was preparing to sink American aircraft carriers. Fadavi has also threatened the United States to leave the Persian Gulf, saying, “Americans removal from the Gulf is one of the basic tasks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” and boasting that Iran could destroy the American fleet in 50 seconds.
This latest naval threat against the United States comes as Iran and the West have stepped up diplomatic talks in an effort to secure a nuclear deal within the next month.
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