Sunday, January 1, 2012

Iran tests fires missile amid growing tensions

Iran has successfully test-fired a medium-range surface-to-air missile during military exercises in the Gulf, the official Irna news agency reports.

Iranian naval commander, Mahmoud Mousavi, was quoted as saying the missile was equipped with the "latest technology" and "intelligent systems".

The test comes a day after he denied earlier state media reports that Iran had test-fired long-range missiles.

He said on Saturday missile launches would take place "in the coming days".

Iran's 10 days of naval exercises began last week and are taking place in international waters to the east of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

They come at a time of increased tensions between the West and Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Tehran reacted angrily last week to reports that Western nations were planning to impose further sanctions targeting Iran's oil and financial sectors.

Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Gulf - and its oil-producing states - to the Indian Ocean.

About 20% of the world's oil passes through the narrow strait.

The US and its allies believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons - a charge Iran denies.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes. Iran has maintained that it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity to meet growing domestic demand.

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