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Iran Revolutionary Guard Announces Military Maneuver in Persian Gulf

The deputy head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard says it will begin a major military exercise in the Gulf, Thursday, in the vicinity of the vital Strait of Hormuz.

The announcement of the impending military exercises were broadcast on Iranian TV.

The deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, General Hussein Salemi, described the purpose of the military exercises.

He says the main goal of these war games is to emphasize security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz as a key bottleneck for energy and the global economy.

Around 40 percent of the world's petroleum imports are estimated to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, and Tehran has threatened to close it if Iran is attacked.

General Salemi said several military capabilities would be tested.

He says his forces will be testing various arms and equipment, as well as capabilities in the areas of intelligence, war, sea operations, communications link systems, missile capacity, as well as individual weapons systems.

Iran is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear program, which the United States and other world powers allege is intended to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

Several Western nations are pushing for increased sanctions against Iran to move the country back towards negotiations concerning its nuclear program.

Analyst Meir Javedanfar of the MEEPAS Center in Tel Aviv says Iran's recent actions indicate a mixture of passive and aggressive behavior.

"This is part of an Iranian carrot and stick strategy towards the West," said Meir Javedanfar. "They are offering a carrot in the form of a negotiation over the nuclear swap deal and the upcoming exercises in the Strait of Hormuz is the stick. They are saying that if their offer of negotiations is not taken up and sanctions are imposed, then the possibility of a stick, in the form of some kind of possible blockage of the the Strait of Hormuz or of travel in the Persian Gulf may await them."

During a joint press conference with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davodoglou, Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki alluded to the possibility of carrying out a nuclear fuel swap, proposed by the West, last November.