Jerusalem, Jan. 2 – Iran test fired medium-range missiles on the final day of military exercises during which Iranian leaders threatened international trade and rejected demands they halt their nuclear development program.
"Islamic Iran has achieved eye-catching success in its confrontation with the arrogant powers and the complicated and huge economic and propaganda network affiliated to them," Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei said.
Despite Iranian claims that the maneuvers are “defensive in nature and intend to convey a message of peace and friendship to the countries of the region,” neighboring countries consider Iran to be a serious regional threat.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both signed multi-billion dollar arms purchases with the U.S. last week to bolster their defenses against repeated military threats from Iran. Just before the signing, Iranian leaders threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz through which flows most oil from the Middle East, including that of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
In a separate report, Iran’s FARS news agency warned that in case of an attack on Iran by either the U.S. or Israel, Iran “will target 32 American bases in the Middle East and close the strategic Strait of Hormuz.” The threat includes bases in neighboring Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.
Iran admits that it is under repeated United Nations sanctions to halt its nuclear development program. Despite an International Atomic Energy Report that concluded its actions were likely aimed at developing nuclear weapons, Iran said “the trend of Iran's achievements will continue,” though it maintains the program is for peaceful purposes.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit four radical Central and South American countries this month in a bid to bypass economic sanctions, the Washington Post reported. “Iran has … found willing partners in the region’s anti-American despots,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ros-Lehtinen told the Post Ahmadinejad’s “tour of tyrants” to Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua would bring “the Iranian threat closer to our shores.”