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Iran showcases first submarine cruise missile as part of Gulf war games

More than 100 vessels were taking part in the three-day drill that stretched from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends the unveiling of Iran's first semi-heavy submarine named the Fateh on 17 February (AFP)

Iran has showcased its first submarine cruise missile as part of extensive naval drills at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the state news agency IRNA reported on Friday.

More than 100 vessels were taking part in the three-day war games in a vast area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean.

The naval drills come at a time of rising tensions with the United States, and less than a week after the Warsaw conference that aimed to create a US-backed alliance against Iran that would include Israel and other Arab states in the Gulf.

"The exercise will cover confronting a range of threats, testing weapons, and evaluating the readiness of equipment and personnel," navy commander Hossein Khanzadi said in remarks carried by state television.

"Submarine missile launches will be carried out... in addition to helicopter and drone launches from the deck of the Sahand destroyer," Khanzadi said.

Iran will be testing its new domestically built Fateh (Conqueror) submarine, which is armed with cruise missiles and was launched last week at the Bandar Abbas naval base, state media said.

Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.

The Islamic Republic has expanded its missile programme, particularly its ballistic missiles. Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities.

Iran launched its domestically made destroyer Sahand in December, which officials say has radar-evading stealth properties.

As part of celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution earlier this month, Iran displayed a new cruise surface-to-surface missile with a range of 1,300 km.

In December, the USS John C. Stennis entered the Gulf, ending a long absence of US aircraft carriers in the strategic waterway.

The United States pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme in May and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran.