Middle East

Iran: US lying about Straits of Hormuz rocket tests

In this Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015 photo released by the US Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman transits the Strait of Hormuz Image copyright AP
Image caption The USS Harry S Truman was among ships in the vicinity of Iranian tests, the US said

Iran has accused the US of lying by claiming Iran test-fired rockets near American warships and other vessels in the Strait of Hormuz last week.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards spokesman dismissed the US claim as a "psychological operation".

The US has said Iran fired "several unguided rockets" in the strategically important waterway.

The incident threatens to cause new tensions between the two nations following a landmark nuclear deal.

On Wednesday, US military spokesman Kyle Raines said rockets had been fired about 1,370m (1,500 yards) from two US vessels and a French frigate, in a "highly provocative" act.

"Firing weapons so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognised maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law," he said.

Cmdr Raines said Iranian ships had announced over maritime radio their intention to carry out the test 23 minutes before the rockets were fired.

'No exercise'

However, in a statement on the Revolutionary Guards' website, Gen Ramezan Sharif said Iran had not fired any rockets.

"The Guards' naval force had no exercise in the past week when the Americans claim that a missile or rocket was fired in the Hormuz Strait area," he said.

"Publishing such lies in the current situation is more a psychological operation."

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway between Iran and Oman that provides passage for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea. The strait is also crucial for ships taking part in the war against so-called Islamic State.

In 2012 Iran threatened to block the strait, which lies at the entrance of the Gulf and is 33km (21 miles) wide at its narrowest point.

The latest incident comes at a sensitive time in US-Iranian relations. An international deal in July over Iran's nuclear programme saw tensions thaw but the US remains concerned about Iran's missile programme.

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