(OILPRICE) — In mid-December, the U.S. military will have only one aircraft carrier positioned in the Persian Gulf region for the first time in two years. At the same time, the Iranian navy said it was kicking off a 10-day exercise in the region.

Oil prices spiked when Iran early this year threatened to close oil-shipping lanes in the region. If talks scheduled for December between Tehran and the IAEA turn sour, there exists for Iran the potential to exploit the security vacuum in the region and use its defensive position for geopolitical gain.

The U.S. Navy announced that, for about two months, there will be only one aircraft carrier based in the Middle East region because of unexpected repair work needed on USS Nimitz. A Navy commander said it was the “right thing to do” to leave the military one carrier short in the region, a first since December 2010. At the same time, the Iranian navy announced plans to conduct a 10-day drill to display what Tehran said was a way for the Islamic republic to “display its might and deterrence power.”

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