CAIRO, AUG. 4 -- Iran today said its naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz were intended to train suicide squads to ram U.S. warships with speedboats "loaded with explosives."

Referring to those killed in riots in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca last Friday, Iranian naval commander Commodore Mohammed Hussein Malekzadegan was quoted by Iran's official news agency IRNA as saying, "Iran's naval forces are fully prepared to take revenge on the United States and its criminal accomplices for shedding the blood of innocent pilgrims." Official Tehran radio said "martyrdom-seeking" volunteers were practicing suicide missions on dummy "enemy ships" in the maneuvers.

The first of Iran's three-day exercise appeared to have a significant effect on reducing shipping traffic in the gulf, although accounts differed as to the degree.

As more than 2 million Moslems peacefully completed the Eid al Adha feast marking the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca amid heavy security precautions today, Iran airlifted home "58 martyred and 41 wounded pilgrims" from the riots, IRNA reported.

Earlier, Iran had claimed that the Saudis were stalling on returning the bodies of the victims killed in the clashes, in which more than 400 persons died. Iran would like to determine how its pilgrims died. It claims the Saudi police opened fire, but Saudi Arabia says they did not fire a shot, and the pilgrims were trampled to death.

IRNA said that the Iranian plane landed in Jeddah, 43 miles from Mecca, to repatriate the bodies, but that it was immediately "surrounded by armed Saudi police contrary to all international norms." The report quoted Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi as saying that the crew was not allowed to disembark for at least five hours. "Here we can see obstructionism and delaying tactics," Mousavi said, according to IRNA.

But later the news agency said the Iran-Air airliner left Jeddah with the bodies and the wounded pilgrims at 11:23 p.m. local time.

Arab diplomats speculated that another area of contention between the two countries was the fate of four Saudi diplomats who were seized in Tehran on Saturday when a mob invaded the Saudi Embassy to protest the Iranian pilgrims' deaths. The Saudis said one diplomat is still being held, but the other three have been released.

In announcing the maneuvers, code-named "Martyrdom," Iran said they would be held to honor the Iranian dead in Mecca and to prepare Iranian forces for possible aggression by the "arch-Satan," the United States. Tehran warned all vessels to stay out of Iran's territorial waters in the gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman for three days.

Iran's territorial waters extend 12 miles into the gulf and Gulf of Oman, but the Strait of Hormuz is considered international waters, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

Iran also said today that some of its speedboats earlier carried out "reconnaissance missions" near the U.S.-escorted tanker Gas Prince, which yesterday completed the round trip through the gulf without incident, clearing the narrow Strait of Hormuz just hours before the start of the Iranian maneuvers.

Today, commercial shipping in the gulf's lanes was down to 10 percent of the usual traffic, according to the British Broadcasting Corp. The Associated Press quoted a shipping official as saying "almost no ships" were leaving the gulf and that traffic into the gulf was down by one-third to a half.

Reuter, however, quoted a tanker agent in Saudi Arabia as saying, "Traffic is proceeding normally."

The commander of the U.S. Navy's Middle East Task Force, Rear Adm. Harold J. Bernsen, scoffed at Iran's warning to ships to steer clear of its waters, according to a report by pool reporters aboard his command ship, the USS LaSalle. "Ships don't maneuver in their area anyway, so what the hell's the point of the warning?" he asked.

"The Saudi killers and their instigator, America, the Great Satan, will not escape Islamic punishment," Tehran radio said today. "Today, the hajjis {Mecca pilgrims} stone the devil at Arafat," the radio said, referring to hajj ritual in which pilgrims throw stones at three pillars representing the devil. "The Moslems must know that the real devil to be stoned or burned is America and its lackeys."

Iran claims that Saudi Arabia is a U.S. lackey.

France is also engaged in a confrontation with Tehran over an Iranian who is holed up in the Iranian Embassy in Paris. The French want to question him in connection with a series of bombings in Paris last summer, but the man took refuge in the embassy, provoking a crisis in which the countries broke diplomatic relations. French tankers also have come under attack in the gulf.

Tonight, the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau and three escort ships sailed into the Suez Canal on their way to Djibouti at the Bab El Mandeb Straits. The Clemenceau reportedly will anchor at Djibouti temporarily rather than enter the gulf, but the assumption is that the warships could be available to protect French shipping, if necessary.

The climax of the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Adha feast, in which pilgrims slaughtered more than a million sheep, goats and camels atop the plain of Arafat, symbolizing Abraham's sacrifice to God, passed peacefully, although witnesses quoted by wire services said riot police with rifles patrolled the Iranian groups and helicopters circled overhead.

In Mecca, the preacher at the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest shrine, asked God to protect Saudi Arabia from what he called Iranian saboteurs. In a sermon, Saleh bin Hameed asked hundreds of thousands of worshippers, "What do the Iranian saboteurs want? . . . Allah, defend our country against the saboteurs and wicked ones."