Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Thursday that naval maneuvers dubbed Velayat 90 will start on Saturday in an area ranging from the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

According to Sayyari, this is the first time that Iran's Navy will have carried out naval drills in such a vast area.

He added the exercises will manifest Iran's military prowess and defense capabilities in the international waters, thereby "conveying a message of peace and friendship to regional countries."

Sayyari said that the newest missile systems and torpedoes will be employed in the maneuvers, adding that the most recent tactics used in subsurface battles will also be demonstrated in the maneuvers.

He also said that Iranian destroyers, missile-launching vessels, logistic vessels, drones and coastal missiles will also be tested.

In the last naval drills staged by the Iranian Army, in May 2010, a six-staged naval maneuver was held, codenamed Vellayat 89, in the Strait of Hormuz and Northern Indian Ocean.

Admiral Qassem Rostamabadi revealed that the Iranian Navy would deploy destroyers, missile-launchers, heavy and light submarines and flight units in specified areas, and ensure the security of shipping lines during the drills.

The drill comes amid rising tensions between Iran, other Persian Gulf nations and the West over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and a perceived aggressive posture taken by the Islamic Republic.

Security observers say that should Iran find itself more isolated or face further sanctions, it could move to seize the Strait of Hormuz -- through which 40% of the global oil supply flows. Such a move would likely spark open conflict between Iran and the West.

Earlier this week the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council – apparently finding Tehran's militaristic message of peace less than heartwarming – resolved to transform itself into a joint diplomatic and military confederation as a strategic bulwark vis-a-vis Iran.

The six-member GCC -- comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE -- has also moved to expand its ranks with Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco being eyed for membership.

Saudi officials have gone on record saying that should Iran obtain nuclear weapons they too will seek an atomic bomb.

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