Iran prepares for major maneuvers in Arabian Gulf

The administration of US President Donald Trump is preparing to strike the first wave of sanctions against Iran

Anonymous US officials said the drills appeared created to send a message to Washington, which is intensifying its economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran but so far stopping short of using the US military to counter Iran and its proxies.

"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", Navy Captain Bill Urban, the chief spokesman at Central Command, said Wednesday. "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", CENTCOM spokesman Captain William Urban said.

He also said that the security of the region has been provided by the IRGC and the Army, and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has ordered the two military forces to keep providing it.

The US Energy Information Administration calls it "the world's most important oil transit chokepoint", with 20 per cent of oil traded worldwide moving through the waterway, which is about 30 miles wide at its narrowest point.

"Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz", Mattis said.

A USA official told AFP that the vessels are mostly small attack boats and that there have been no interactions with US ships in the area thus far.

Iranian navy personnel celebrate after successfully launching a Ghader missile from the Jask port area on the shores of the Gulf of Oman during a drill near the Strait of Hormuz, Tuesday, January 1, 2013.

The official said it's not clear if the timing of the exercise is tied to the U.S. only having one warship inside the Gulf at this time.

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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference at the Chancellery in Vienna, July 4, 2018.

US President Donald Trump responded later that day with an all-caps tweet, saying that Iran would "suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before..."

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard forces are expected to begin a major exercise in the Persian Gulf as soon as within the next 48 hours that could be aimed at demonstrating their ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, according to two U.S. officials directly familiar with the latest USA assessment of IRGC troop movements.

"The world's economy depends on that energy, those energy supplies flowing out of there". USA sanctions on buyers of Iranian oil aren't due to begin until November.

"If Iran tries to block the Straits of Bab al-Mandab, it will find itself facing an worldwide coalition determined to prevent it from doing so, and this coalition will also include the State of Israel and all of its arms", Netanyahu said at a naval graduation ceremony. They have also expressed concern about keeping open the waterways off Yemen where Iranian backed rebels have attacked oil tankers.

In addition, US military officials are working to encourage other nations in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, in working harder to keep the Gulf open amid Tehran's actions.

"If Iran tries to block the Straits of Bab al-Mandeb, it will find itself facing an global coalition determined to prevent it from doing so, and this coalition will also include the State of Israel and all its arms", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience of graduating naval officers August 1, Haaretz reported. "Only in that case, we would be less selective, and the harm to our enemies would be greater".

"If they want to meet, I'll meet anytime they want, anytime they want".

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