Iran naval drills start amid tension with U.S.

Iran naval drills start amid tension with U.S.

Iran naval drills start amid tension with U.S.

There is increased Iranian military activity in the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. Central Command confirmed to Reuters after several U.S. government officials said they believed Iran was preparing to carry out military exercises in the strait.

The swarming of small boats followed a relative lull in Iranian navy harassments against American warships traversing the precarious Persian Gulf.

'We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, ' said Navy Captain Bill Urban, the chief spokesman at Central Command, which oversees USA forces in the Middle East.

The passageway has been the scene of a number of naval confrontations between Iran and the USA, and has more recently become a point for sabre-rattling between the two countries since Washington's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord.

The Strait of Hormuz which connects the Persian Gulf with the Arabian sea, strategically important for the delivery of energy resources.

Later that day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is also in favor of Trump meeting with Iranian leaders, but added three preconditions.

"We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in worldwide waterways", Urban said.

The move could heighten tensions between the United States and Iran. Hundreds of ground forces could also be involved. The Trump administration is pressuring Iran's other trading partners in Europe and elsewhere to curb trade and investment ties as well.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said President Trump has called for an increase in tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.

The historic nuclear deal from 2015 provides for the removal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for limiting its opportunities for the enrichment and storage of nuclear materials. Mr. Rouhani replaced the head of Iran's central bank last week, a figure many blamed for mishandling the nation's finances.

The Strait of Hormuz hosts about 20 percent of the global trade in oil and choking it off would add to supply-side strains that would come in November if USA sanctions manage to isolate Iranian oil from the market.

Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Iran against shutting down the Strait of Hormuz, saying that would amount to an attack on worldwide shipping, which he said would provoke "an global response to reopen the shipping lanes with whatever it took".

Last week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Iran that shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would be considered an attack on worldwide shipping.

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