Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard on Thursday started large-scale war games in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz, state television reported.
Iran has been holding military maneuvers in the gulf and the Strait of Hormuz annually since 2006 to show off its military capabilities. The last four editions of the games were held in the summer, but there has been no official explanation why they were brought forward this year.
The war games have routinely heightened tension in the region, but they have more recently taken added significance as the standoff between the West and Tehran over Iran's nuclear program grows deeper, according to The Associated Press.
A U.S. Defense Department report released Wednesday said Iran is working hard on its ballistic missile capability, and that it claims to have a new missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers. The report also said Iran has improved the accuracy and payload capacity of its missiles, and estimates the country could have a missile capable of reaching the U.S. by 2015 if it gets foreign help.
The U.S. and its Western allies allege Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing atomic weapons, but Iran says its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes, Voice of America says.
Negotiations are underway on the use of airfields in Cuba, Venezuela and Algeria. South Africa, Syria and Egypt are likely to join the list