Iran tests missile as US tightens sanctions
Tehran - Iran said on Sunday it had tested a new medium-range missile during war games near a vital Gulf oil transit channel, hours after US President Barack Obama signed a law tightening sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.
A military spokesperson also announced that Iranian ships and submarines will on Monday carry out manoeuvres designed to allow them to shut the strategic channel, the Strait of Hormuz, if Tehran so wishes.
The show of military muscle underlined a threat by Iran to shut the narrow strait - a throughpoint for 20% of the world's oil - if more Western sanctions were applied over its nuclear programme.
The potential for that scenario, and possible open confrontation with US warships that patrol the Gulf, was given impetus when Obama on Saturday signed tough new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and financial sector.
Under the measures, foreign firms will have to choose between doing business with the Islamic republic or the economically mighty United States.
The aim is to put the squeeze on Iran's crucial oil revenues, most of which are processed by the central bank.
Iran has said such sanctions, and a possible oil embargo being mulled by the European Union, could push it to close the Strait of Hormuz. Its war games have underlined the threat.
"From tomorrow morning (Monday), a vast majority of our naval units - surface and underwater, and aerial - will implement a new tactical formation, designed to make the passage of any vessel through the Strait of Hormuz impossible if the Islamic Republic of Iran's navy so chooses," navy spokesperson Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
On Sunday, "for the first time, an anti-radar medium-range missile was successfully fired during the massive naval drills," Mousavi said, according to state media.
"This medium-range surface-to-air missile is equipped with the latest technology to combat radar-evading targets and intelligent systems which try to disrupt missile navigation," he was quoted as saying.
Further details on the missile were not given. It was not immediately known whether it was fired from a ship or from land, nor what distance it is able to fly.