Iran test fires long range missiles, amid nuclear tensions

Iran test fires long range missiles, amid nuclear tensions Missile tests are part of 10-day military drill; earlier this week, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports. Iran test-fired long range missiles on Saturday during a naval exercise in the Gulf, the semi-official Fars news agency said, following a threat by Iran to close shipping lanes if the West imposes sanctions on its oil exports. Another Iranian news agency reported that Iran's nuclear negotiator would write to the European Union offering to resume nuclear talks with major powers. The 10-day naval drill in the Gulf began last week as Iran showed its resolve to counter any attack by enemies such as Israel or the United States. "Iran test-fired missiles including long range (missiles), surface to sea, ... in the Persian Gulf," Fars said on Saturday. Iran threatened on Tuesday to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz if it became the target of an oil embargo over its nuclear ambitions, a move that could trigger military conflict with countries dependent on Gulf oil. Tensions with the West have risen since the UN nuclear watchdog reported on Nov. 8 that Iran appears to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be pursuing research to that end. Iran denies this and says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity to meet growing domestic demand. Letter to Ashton The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted a senior official as saying that nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili would write to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton to express Iran's readiness for fresh nuclear talks with major powers. "Jalili will soon send a letter to Catherine Ashton over the format of negotiations ... then fresh talks will take place with major powers," said Iran's ambassador to Germany Alireza Sheikh Attar.

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