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On the same day The New York Times reports about a major U.S. naval build up in the Persian Gulf, the Iranian military is bragging about missile tests that can threaten Israel. The Times story says that the Navy has quietly doubled the number of minesweepers in the region and also moved dozens of new fighter jets to air bases in the Persian Gulf, as both a warning and a contingency plan should the Iranians decide to close off the Strait of Hormuz — a strategic economic move that Iran is once again threatening to undertake.

The proposal by Iran's parliament to block the major pathway for oil tankers comes as a new round of oil sanctions against the country took effect this weekend. Iran's economy has struggled under a barrage of international embargoes, but the country has refused to back down from calls to end its nuclear technology program. In addition to the threats over the Strait, the Revolutionary Guard test fired new long-range ballistic missiles earlier today, including one with a range of up to 1,300 kilometers. Israel is about 1,000 kilometers from Iran's western border.

The months long buildup of U.S. forces is also meant to reassure Israel that they will have some protection in the event of an Iranian attack, but some U.S. officials are concerned that if the show of force is too strong, it will embolden the Israelis to strike first. The U.S. buildup will culminate with a multinational exercises in the Persian Gulf in September. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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