Iran’s navy said it would hold an annual drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz as pressure mounts on the country months after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran, targeting its vital oil sector.
The strait is located at the mouth of the Arab Gulf and is crucial to global energy supplies, with about a third of all oil traded at sea passing through it.
Iranian Adm. Hossein Khanzadi told state TV on Thursday the 3-day maneuvers will start on Friday and extend as far as the Sea of Oman and the fringes of the Indian Ocean.
He said submarines, warships, helicopters and surveillance planes will participate in the drill, dubbed as “Velayat-97.”
The exercise will include missile launches from the vessels.
Iran regularly holds maneuvers in the strait. The strait at its narrowest point is 33 kilometers (21 miles) wide, in the waters between Iran and Oman.
Despite being so narrow and within the territorial waters of those two nations, the strait is viewed as an international transit route. American forces routinely travel through the area, despite sometimes tense encounters with the Iranian forces.
Tensions have been high since US President Donald Trump’s May withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which saw sanctions lifted for Tehran limiting its uranium enrichment.
The Trump administration maintains that the 2015 nuclear deal, celebrated by European powers and the previous US administration of former president Barack Obama, was insufficient because it did not include measures to curb the Iranian regime’s ambitions in the region and its ballistic missile program.
Trump wants to renegotiate the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran rejects the US pullout from the deal as a violation of international law.
Washington reimposed strict economic sanctions on Iran while the other parties to the nuclear deal — Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany are all trying to maintain the pact.
The sanctions have impacted Iran’s economy, contributing to rising inflation and fall in the rial, the Iranian currency.