Iran stages massive military drills just weeks before crunch nuclear talks

Iran carries out annual military exercises

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Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi, the spokesman for the Zolfaqar-1400 drill, told state television: ”The military exercise in Iran’s coast on the Gulf of Oman is to display the country’s military might and readiness to confront our enemies.” The exercise – held annually – covers an area from the eastern parts of the Strait of Hormuz to the northern parts of the Indian Ocean and parts of the Red Sea, state television reported.

Roughly a fifth of all oil is consumed globally passes through the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway in the Gulf.

Periodic confrontations have taken place between Iran’s military and US forces in the Gulf since 2018, when former US President Donald Trump quit the nuclear pact and reimposed harsh sanctions against Tehran, citing alleged violations.

Iran has reacted by breaching the deal’s limits on its nuclear programme.

Indirect talks between Iran and US President Joe Biden’s administration to revive the pact, which were put on hold since the election of Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi in June, are set to resume in Vienna on November 29.

Mr Mousavi said tactical and coastal units taking part in the war game had successfully carried out various reconnaissance, surveillance, and combat missions.

They used different types of electronic warfare equipment and drones such as the homegrown Ababil-3, Yasir, Sadeq, Mohajer-4, plus Simorgh unmanned aerial vehicles and P3F, RF4, and Boeing 707 aircraft.

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He added: “The units used a wide variety of military equipment and weapons, including speedboats, fast attack craft, underwater propulsion vehicles, and rocket launchers.

“This equipment has been developed and made by local forces.

“It involves aircraft equipped with air to surface missiles and precision guided missiles and a smart cannon used in the armoured division of the army.

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“Also missiles systems which can counter air threats in the air defence department in the army.”

He added: “Also the naval unit of the army will feature vessels and submarines developed by local forces also.”

On Saturday, both Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian expressed support for restoring the nuclear deal to its original form.

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) agreement between Iran and six world powers, Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment programme in return for the lifting of US, UN and European Union sanctions.

President Ebrahim Raisi said on Thursday Iran would not back down “in any way” in the defence of its interests, after the sides announced that nuclear talks will resume on November 29.

On Friday, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said: “So far we have produced 25 kilograms of 60 percent uranium, which, except for countries with nuclear weapons, no other country is able to produce.”

Iran has in the past denied seeking nuclear weapons, saying it is refining uranium only for civilian energy uses, and has said its breaches are reversible if the United States lifts sanctions and rejoins the agreement.

In April, the UN nuclear watchdog said Tehran had begun the process of enriching uranium to 60 percent fissile purity at an above-ground nuclear plant at Natanz, confirming earlier statements by Iranian officials.

Iran said in June it had made 6.5 kg of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent.

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