Iran reports usual movement in Strait of Hormuz following the US ending sanction waivers; Iran and Russia to conduct naval drill in the Persian Gulf; Iranian Navy official: drill demonstrates country’s military strength and capabilities to other countries which has a significant deterrent effect.

Iran and Russia will conduct a joint maritime drill in the Persian Gulf sometime in 2019. Reports surfaced in Arabic media and were confirmed by Iran’s Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi who reported to the press on Monday, “Based on negotiations with the Russian Navy, the force will dispatch a fleet to the southern regions of Iran this year.”

The Iranian official claimed the drill is being held given Iran’s peaceful state and as a measure to show its military capabilities. He reported, “In the time of peace, we can make moves that are as effective as combat. Part of this is showing the country’s military strength and capabilities to other countries which has a significant deterrent effect.” He also claimed that “the security arrangements of the region should be formed by the regional countries, and therefore there is no need for the presence of foreigners.”

Recently appointed head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, reiterated that the Islamic Republic will not negotiate with the United States under its sanctions and the recent end to sanction waivers for countries purchasing Iranian oil on Monday. He claimed “any negotiation under the circumstances is surrendering to America and it will never happen,” echoing Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif’s claim on Sunday that “Iran is not seeking confrontation, but will not escape defending itself.”

The United States officially labeled the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization this month, Iran following and designating the US Army as a terrorist entity.

The Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Baqeri, reported on Sunday that movement in the Strait of Hormuz was as usual despite the United States’ sanctions waiver announcement, stating “US warships are obliged to respond to the IRGC on the passage of the Strait of Hormuz and until yesterday they have been answering IRGC questions. We have not seen a change in their procedures.”

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