Pentagon 'monitoring closely' Iranian naval drills

Recent reports by state-run news agencies claim Iranian warships let loose a new cruise missile dubbed the "Qader" and revamped version of its "Nour" long-range missiles, according to CNN. 


On Wednesday, DOD press secretary George Little declined to comment on the validity of the Iranian reports, but said department officials were "monitoring closely" recent events in the Strait. 

The Pentagon spokesman also strongly urged Tehran to adhere to international mandates governing the type of weapons-testing allegedly taking place in the area. 

"We call upon Iran to abide by international law and the norms of international maritime law," regarding reports of live missile tests during the naval drill, Little told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon. 

The naval drills, designed to bolster the country's defensive capabilities along the country's shorelines, were focused on taking out enemy warplanes, helicopters and unmanned drones that happen to cross over into Iranian airspace. 

In June, reports surfaced that Tehran was planning to outfit its warships with extended-range missiles, capable of striking targets in the Strait of Hormuz or the Sea of Oman from the Iranian coastline. 

Wednesday's week-long naval exercise comes less than two months after the Pentagon confirmed that Iranian warplanes opened fire on an American drone conducting an intelligence operation off the Iranian coastline. 

The U.S. aircraft returned to the base unharmed, but not before Iranian fighters fired twice on it and tailed it for several miles in international airspace, before breaking off the pursuit once the drone entered sovereign territory, DOD officials confirmed last November. 

To that end, Iranian Rear Adm. Amir Rastegari told the state-run Mehr News Agency that military leaders had issued multiple warnings to "foreign force reconnaissance units" attempting to track the most recent naval exercise along the Straits. 

“They received the warnings and remained afar the drill zone,” he told Mehr on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, Rastegari claimed Iranian forces captured two American RQ-11 Raven drones reportedly attempting to conduct surveillance during the naval drill. 

The Raven is a lightweight, portable aerial drone used by Army and Marine Corps units, as well as U.S. special operations forces. 

The Iranian naval officer claims military and intelligence officials in the country have cracked the encryption codes on the drones and are conducting "research" on the captured aircraft. 

Last December, Navy officials denied reports that Iran had captured a Scan Eagle drone conducting surveillance within Iranian airspace. 

Navy Cmdr. Jason Salata told The Hill at the time that service officials in the Gulf region had accounted for all the U.S. inventory of Scan Eagle drones in the Mideast. 

Additionally, Salata said all aerial intelligence and surveillance operations conducted by U.S. forces in and around Iran and the Gulf region "are in compliance with international law." 

The last known loss of an American unmanned surveillance drone was when a Fire Scout was shot down by Libyan forces during the 2011 United Nations peacekeeping operation in the country.