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U.S./World

Missile test proves Iran controls oil passageway, navy chief says

| Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012

TEHRAN -- Iran test-fired a surface-to-surface cruise missile on Monday in a drill its navy chief said proved Tehran was in control of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for one-sixth of the world's oil supply.

The 10-day naval maneuvers, which are scheduled to end today, were Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its nuclear program. Tehran has threatened to close the strait as possible retaliation to economic sanctions.

The missile, called "Ghader," or "Capable" in Farsi, was described as an upgraded version of one that has been in service before. The official IRNA news agency said the missile "successfully hit its intended target" during the exercise.

An earlier version of the same cruise missile had a range of 124 miles and could travel at low altitudes. There were suggestions it could counter the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said at a regular online briefing that France "regrets the very bad signal to the international community sent by the latest missile tests announced by Iran."

There have been conflicting comments from Iranian officials over Tehran's intentions to close the Strait of Hormuz and arnings against such an ominous move.

"The Strait of Hormuz is completely under our control," Iran's navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said. "We do not allow any enemy to pose threats to our interests."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Iranian exercise was a show of strength intended "to deter the world from continuing sanctions against it."

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