Iran on Monday sought to convey the message that it is fast acquiring the capability to enforce a blockade of the strategic Strait of Hormuz by firing during a military exercise a cruise missile , which it claims can target hostile warships 200 km away.

The Iranian Navy’s deputy commander, Admiral Syed Mahmoud Moussavi said on Monday that the missile, named Qader (mighty) managed to hit the specified targets with high accuracy. Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency (FNA) is reporting that Ahmad Vahidi, the defence minister had in September announced that Qader is an anti-ship cruise missile with a range of 200 km that can strike naval vessels, including frigates and warships, as well as targets onshore. A large number of Qader missiles have already been supplied to the amphibious wing of the army and the elite Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), the agency added. Earlier the Iranian side had announced that it would also test the Nour (light) missile on Monday.

In the midst of its 10-day naval exercise Vilayat-90 that ended on Monday, Iran has said that though it had the capability, it did not have the intention of blocking the Strait of Hormuz-a key passage through which nearly 20 per cent of the world oil supplies pass. "No order has been given for the closure of the Strait of Hormuz. But we are prepared for various scenarios," state television quoted Navy Chief Habibollah Sayyari as saying.

The Iranian authorities have brought the Strait of Hormuz into military focus to deter recession hit western economies from banning Iranian oil exports. Iranian officials say that international oil prices would surge, and severely undermine western economies, in case the Strait of Hormuz was blocked. The threat comes amid a proposed U.S. law that would enforce a comprehensive ban on Iranian oil exports, the lifeline of the country’s economy.

Marking yet another technological success, Iran on Sunday declared that it had developed on its own, a nuclear fuel rod, used in atomic power plants. On its website, Iran’s atomic energy agency said that the domestically produced rod had already been inserted into the core of Tehran’s nuclear research reactor, which has been used for producing isotopes for treating cancer. In January last, talks in Istanbul had failed between Iran and the global powers, where a mechanism was discussed for the supply of low enriched uranium by Iran in return for fuel rods, containing 20 per cent enriched uranium, for the Tehran research reactor.

Bolstered by the demonstration of its military and scientific advance, Iran on Saturday announced it was ready for another round of negotiations with the global powers on its nuclear programme. “We formally declared to them to return to the path of dialogue for cooperation,” Syed Jalili, Iran’s top negotiator during nuclear talks told Iranian diplomats in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency said.

Despite the overture, Washington implanted fresh tensions in its ties with Iran, with President Obama on Saturday making it unambiguous that countries dealing with Iran’s central bank would have to choose between Tehran and Washington. The new law would deny anyone dealing with the Iranian central bank, access to U.S. financial institutions and banks. The new sanctions will start taking effect in 60 days -- imposing fresh pressure on Tehran to quickly resolve its nuclear row with the West. The U.S. has also signed big arms deals, with Persian Gulf countries on Iran’s doorstep. Saudi Arabia would receive 84 F-15 fighter jets as part of a hefty 30 billion dollar deal, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would acquire 94 advanced air defence missiles.

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