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Iranian Navy tests medium-range missile

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's Navy said Sunday it has test-fired a medium-range surface-to-air missile during a drill in international waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz — the passageway for one-sixth of the world's oil supply.

State TV said the missile, named Mehrab, or Altar, has been designed to evade radars and was developed by Iranian scientists. The report didn't provide details or say when the missile was tested.

A spokesman for the exercise, Rear Adm. Mahmoud Mousavi, said the missile is one of the newest in the navy's arsenal.

"It's equipped with state-of-the-art technology and a built-in system that enables it to thwart jammers," Mousavi told state TV.

The exercise covers a 1,250-mile stretch of water beyond the Strait of Hormuz, including parts of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

The drill, which could bring Iranian ships into proximity with U.S. Navy vessels that operate in the same area, is Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its controversial nuclear program. The West fears Iran's program aims to develop atomic weapons — a charge Tehran denies, insisting it's for peaceful purposes only.

The 10-day exercise drew significant attention after Iranian officials warned they may close the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off oil exports, if the West imposes sanctions on Iran's oil shipments.

But Iranian military officials later backed off from the threat, saying Tehran can easily close the strategic oil route at the mouth of the Persian Gulf but has no intention of doing so at this point.

Mousavi made a similar reconciliatory comment on Sunday.

"We won't disrupt traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. We are not after this," the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

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