Iran's military has kicked off new war games in the strategic Persian Gulf waters - the country's second military show in less than a month.
State TV says the exercise, which started Wednesday in the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman, will last eight days and cover about 97,000 square miles (250,000 square kilometers) of Iranian territorial waters.
The exercises reflect Iran's desire to flex its military muscle at a time of a deepening standoff with the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear program. The West suspects it's aimed at building a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard held five-day maneuvers in late April in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz - the waterway for around 40 percent of the world's oil and gas supplies.
Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying by the Tehran Times, “The massive maneuvers, entitled Velayat-89, will display (Iran’s) defensive and deterrent naval power,” and will convey the message of “peace and friendship” to regional countries.
However, Sayyari warned that the Islamic Republic would respond "harshly" to any threat made against it.
The Iranian army claims the drills are meant to test weapons manufactured in the country, but the West believes they are aimed at deterring the US and Israel from bombing its nuclear facilities.