Monday, December 31, 2012
The Islamic Republic of Iran says it is conducting naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz. According to the Iranian navy’s Habibollah Sayyari, the “Velayat 91” drills — to be held for a six day period ending on Wednesday — are intended to showcase “the armed forces’ military capabilities.”
Iran’s state-run media reports that the Iranian government warns all ships to stay away until the end of the exercises. According to this report the drills — which began on Friday — are to be conducted over roughly half a million square miles (a million square kilometers) of waters stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the northern part of the Indian Ocean which includes the Gulf of Oman.
The Strait of Hormuz is a major shipping route of great strategic importance. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 17 million barrels of oil passes through this part of the Persian Gulf per day. That is nearly 20% of the worldwide oil trade and about 35% of oil transported by sea.
This is only one in a series of major naval drills held by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Ten days of drills, “Velayat 90”, was conducted last December and “Velayat 89” a year and a half before that in May 2010. Four months ago, the United States with some of its allies also conducted a series of exercises and naval drills, concerned with keeping the strait open. Iran has said it might close the strait if its nuclear program were attacked.