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Iran to hold new naval exercises next month

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TEHRAN (AP): An Iranian news agency has reported that the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards will hold naval exercises in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf in February.

Thursday's report by the semiofficial Fars quoted the Guard's naval commander Admiral Ali Fadavi as saying that the war games dubbed "The Great Prophet" have been held annually for the last seven years.

Adm Fadavi said that this year's drill will be "different" from its predecessors. He did not elaborate.

Iran's navy on Tuesday ended a 10-day exercise near the Strait.

It was Tehran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its nuclear programme, which the West fears is aimed at developing weapons.

Iran denies those charges, insisting the programme is for peaceful purposes only.

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