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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Iranian video game offers chance to blow up U.S. tanker

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A new Iranian computer game sets players the task of blowing up a U.S. tanker in the Gulf to block the sea route for much of the world's oil supplies, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The game, "Counter Strike", invites players to plant two bombs on the oil tanker to sink it and make the strait of Hormuz impassable, the Jomhouri-ye Eslami daily reported. About two-fifths of globally traded oil passes through the channel.

The game illustrates a warning by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said in June that oil exports in the Gulf region could be seriously endangered if the United States made a wrong move on Iran.

Its launch also comes at a critical time in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, which the United States says is aimed at making an atomic bomb but which Iran says is to produce electricity. Iran faces the threat of U.N. sanctions if it does not suspend uranium enrichment.

"In the new computer game ... the ways of shutting down the Hormuz strait through exploding a ship will be shown to the users," Jomhouri-ye Eslami quoted a statement issued by the game's state-funded producers as saying.

The cyberspace and computer games markets have witnessed sabre-rattling before between Iran and the United States. Games have involved special forces of each side blasting their enemies' facilities and foiling plots hatched by the adversary.

A popular U.S. game, called "U.S. attacks Iran" or "Assault on Iran" and made by Kuma Reality games, revolved around a special forces mission to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.

The new Iranian game was produced by an eight-member team in three months for distribution in Iran, the paper said. Its launch was linked to commemorations of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, whose official start was marked in Tehran this month.

The designers and the sponsors of the game were not immediately available for comments.
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