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Iran Launches Naval Maneuvers

September 26, 1999

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Iranian submarines and warships have launched a week of naval maneuvers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the gateway for about a quarter of the world’s oil supplies.

The Unity 77 maneuvers, which mark the anniversary of the start of the 1980-88 war with Iraq and were launched Saturday, will incorporate all three of Iran’s Kilo-class Russian-built submarines for the first time, according to navy spokesman Abdollah Manavi.

``These submarines will demonstrate their defensive capabilities by staying under water for several days without surfacing. They can counter any alien threat from submarines or ships,″ official Tehran radio quoted Manavi as saying.

On Sunday’s broadcast, monitored in Dubai, Manavi said the ``maneuvers carry a message of peace for friendly countries in the region.″

Iran has tried unsuccessfully to convince regional countries to conduct joint exercises with its forces. The Iranians oppose the presence of American forces in the Persian Gulf, but most countries in the region are U.S. allies.

Iran and the United Arab Emirates are locked in a territorial dispute over three islands in the Strait of Hormuz. Both countries claim sovereignty over the strategic island of Abu Musa and two smaller islands, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs.

Manavi said the maneuvers will be held every year in the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman.

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