TEHRAN: Iran's military leadership Tuesday warned a US aircraft carrier to keep out of the Persian Gulf.
The warning from army commander Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi comes after a 10-day Iranian naval exercise ended in the Strait of Hormuz.
Salehi was speaking on the sidelines of a military parade to mark the end of the drill in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most critical oil routes.
A US battleship had moved from the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman during the drill, Xinhua quoted the Fars news agency as saying.
"We advice this (US) aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf because we will not stop just on advice," Salehi was quoted as saying by Fars.
"At the beginning of the drill, we saw the US aircraft carrier left the Persian Gulf, passed through the Strait of Hormuz and was stationed in the Sea of Oman."
"We advice and warn them not to return to their previous position in the Persian Gulf because we are not used to repeating our warnings and we warn just once," Salehi said.
"Our move in the sea is neither passive nor aggressive but for safeguarding the interests of the Islamic republic and the Islamic states. The friends of the Islamic republic need to know that it would be better (for them) if they rely on a brother country like Iran rather than the West," he added.
An Iranian aircraft had shot images of the US carrier, the navy's Deputy Commander Seyyed Mahmoud Mousavi said Dec 29.
A day before, the Pentagon had warned Iran against any attempt to block the strait.
"Interference with the transit or passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated," Pentagon press secretary George Little said.
"This is not just an important issue for security and stability in the region, but an economic lifeline for countries in the Gulf, to include Iran," Little said.
The remarks came after Iran's top officials threatened to seal off the important oil passage.
The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet said "anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations. Any disruption will not be tolerated."
The exercise, dubbed Velayat 90, was launched Dec 24 to test the country's military capabilities.
The drills were conducted in an area from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.