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A senior commander with Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards says upcoming war games are designed to send a message of peace, friendship and security to Tehran's neighbors.

The Revolutionary Guards' deputy chief, Hossein Salami, told Iranian state television Wednesday the military exercises will begin Thursday and focus on security in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.

He also said that Iran would be willing to conduct similar war games in the future with other Gulf nations.

Iranian officials say their forces will test various weapon systems as well as intelligence and communication capabilities.

Nearly 40 percent of the world's oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz, where the drills will take place.

Also Wednesday, Iran's supreme leader criticized the United States for what he said were threats to use nuclear weapons against the Islamic republic. The semi-official Fars News Agency quotes Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying Iran would not allow the U.S. to dominate his country with nuclear threats.

Iran is under United Nations sanctions for its nuclear program, which the U.S. and other world powers allege is intended to develop nuclear weapons.

Several western nations are pushing for increased sanctions against Iran to move the country back toward negotiations concerning its nuclear program.

Iran says its nuclear program has only civilian purposes.

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