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    This file photo taken on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 shows a U.S. F-18 fighter jet, left, land on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as a U.S. destroyer sells on alongside during fly exercises in the Persian Gulf

    Iran's Zarif Blasts US Gulf Buildup, Notes US Navy Over 7,000 Miles From Home

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    The US Navy warned Thursday that it was 'closely monitoring' Iran's annual naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, the choke point through which a fifth of the world's oil shipments flow.

    Responding to the US Navy's choice of words in reference to the Persian Gulf, which a CENTCOM spokesman referred to as the "Arabian Gulf" on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to offer the Navy a history lesson.

    "US Navy can't seem to find its way around our waters. Perhaps because it hasn't figured out its name: Persian Gulf, as it's been called for 2,000 years longer than US has existed," Zarif quipped.

    "Or maybe [the US Navy] doesn't know what it's doing in our backyard, 7,000 miles from home," the Foreign Minister added, attaching a map showing the distance between the Persian Gulf and Florida.

    Zarif's tweet follows US Navy Captain Bill Urban's statement about the US being "aware of the increase in #Iran naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of #Hormuz and Gulf of Oman."

    The Iranian Foreign Minister's reply received the support of Twitter followers, who joked that the US Navy "needs to send its captains back to Annapolis to take geography 101," and recalled Iran's rich history dating back to the days of the Persian Empire. 

    Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of Iran's armed forces, reportedly assembled over a hundred vessels, many of them fast-moving gunboats, near the Strait of Hormuz for drills this week. The annual exercises officially kicked off on Thursday, and have not affected commercial maritime activity in the area, US officials have told Reuters.

    Tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, which promised Iran sanctions relief in exchange for guarantees that the country would not pursue nuclear weapons. The JCPOA was also signed by Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany, and the European Union. The remaining signatories have been looking for ways to salvage the deal amid the looming re-imposition of US energy-related sanctions in November. On Monday, Zarif called on the US to "quit its addiction to sanctions," pointing out that they haven't worked against the Islamic Republic despite being in place for nearly 40 years.

    Last week, Iranian Foreign Ministry officials and military leaders warned that Iran would retaliate if other powers "seek to endanger" the country's interests. Last month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei stated that if Iranian oil exports were blocked, other regional exporters' oil supplies would also be blocked in retaliation. Khameini's remarks follow threats by Washington that it would bring Iran's crude oil exports down "to zero."

    The Strait of Hormuz, part of which constitutes Iranian territorial waters, is the choke point passage way for about 20 percent of the world's crude oil, and carries oil from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Any blockage of the route would have devastating consequences for the global economy.

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