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Iran hypes war games in Gulf oil corridor

AFP | April 6 2006

The head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards played up Thursday the significance of its war games in the narrow neck in the Gulf through which two-fifths of the world's oil trade passes.

"The importance of the ... maneuvers lies in the time and geographical place they are happening as well as the arms used," General Yahya Rahim Safavi told the official IRNA news agency.

The Straits of Hormuz, between the Gulf and the Sea of Oman, is a strategic corridor for the oil exports.

Iran has been showing off its military achievements in the Gulf, including radar-evading anti-ship missiles, which analysts fear Tehran could use to cripple maritime traffic and block the Straits if threatened over its nuclear ambitions.

Iran is under mounting world pressure to give up its controversial nuclear program, which it claims is purely for energy purposes but which many countries suspect is the cover for a weapons programme.

"The export of 20 million barrels (of petrol) through the Straits of Hormuz highlights the significance of the region, where the maneuvers are held," said the commander of Iran's powerful ideological army.

"We have taken great steps in reinforcing the navy and air force corps of the Revolutionary Guards and the army considering our enemies' aerial and naval strategies".

The war games kicked off Friday and are due to end Thursday.

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