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Iran test-fires missile near Strait of Hormuz

Iran has test fired a medium-range missile during naval exercises in international waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a shipment route for 20 percent of the world's oil.

Strait of hormuz 12 29 2011Enlarge
An Iranian Army soldier stands guard on a military speed boat during the 'Velayat-90' navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on Dec. 28, 2011. (ALI MOHAMMADI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran on New Year's Day said it had successfully test fired a medium-range missile during military exercises near the Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian naval commander Mahmoud Mousavi said the surface-to-air missile was equipped with the "latest technology" and "intelligent systems," the BBC said, citing a report by the official Irna news agency.

According to the Associated Press, Iranian state TV said the missile is designed to evade radars, and was developed by Iranian scientists. The TV report did not say when the missile was tested.

Iran's 10 days of war games exercises began last week and are taking place in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman, to the east of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

More from GlobalPost: Strait of Hormuz: War of words over Iran oil blockade threats (VIDEO)

Last week Iran's Vice President Mohammed Reza Rahimi threatened an oil blockade in the Hormuz strait, through which about 20 percent of the world's oil passes, if the US imposed sanctions on the country's crude exports.

“If Iran oil is banned not a single drop of oil will pass through Hormuz Strait,” Rahimi was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran's report of a missile test comes a day after US President Barack Obama signed into law a defense bill that includes tough new sanctions against Iran, targeting the country's oil and financial sectors.

The latest standoff between the US and Iran has the potential to spark military reprisals and cause a spike in oil prices.

More from GlobalPost: Iran war games in Strait of Hormuz enter 'power phase'

Tensions between the West and Iran have increased since Nov. 8, when a UN report said Tehran was working on designing an atomic bomb. Iran strongly denied the report and said it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, Reuters reported.

Also today, Iran said its scientists have produced and tested the country's first nuclear fuel rod.

Iranian state TV said the rods contain natural uranium and have been inserted into the core of Tehran's research nuclear reactor, Reuters reported.

This is "a feat of engineering the West doubted Tehran was capable of," the AP said.

More from GlobalPost: Strait of Hormuz: 5 key facts

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120101/iran-strait-hormuz-missile-tests-us-sanctions