An Iranian submarine successfully carried out its first cruise missile deep-sea launch during a naval drill in the nation’s southern waters. The maneuvers came as US aircraft carriers returned to the region after a long absence. A light Ghadir-class submarine fired an anti-ship cruise missile from underwater for the first time on Sunday, the Iranian Navy commander, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, told local media, adding that the missile had successfully hit its target. Persian Gulf War Games: Iran Successfully Fires Missile from Submarine for First Time pic.twitter.com/XQipaMvWuy
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— Fars News Agency (@EnglishFars) 24 февраля 2019 г. It happened during the ongoing large-scale naval drill, ‘Veleyat-97.’ The war games are taking place in the area from the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz to the Sea of Oman and the northern parts of the Indian Ocean. The navy fired numerous cruise missiles from ships and coastal ground-based systems during the exercise. Tehran used the drill to showcase its newest frigate, ‘Sahand,’ and its Fateh-class submarines that military officials say can also carry cruise missiles. Iranian Navy Drills in High Seas pic.twitter.com/Obcy08lxt0 — FarsNews Agency (@EnglishFars) 24 февраля 2019 г. The massive naval maneuvers are being staged amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US. In December, the Pentagon deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS ‘John C. Stennis’ to the Persian Gulf. It became the first American warship of its type to cross the Strait of Hormuz since US PresidentDonald Trump unilaterally pulled the nation out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program last year. The US had re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, targeting its oil trade and financial sector. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence called on the EU to “stop undermining” the US sanctions by allowing European companies to deal with Tehran. Iranian officials slammed the sanctions as illegitimate and vowed to swiftly defend the nation from any outside pressure. In January, the navy announced its plans to send warships to the western Atlantic Ocean – a move that Tehran says is a response to the US naval presence in its backyard.