US and allies start military exercises in Persian Gulf

US and allies start military exercises in Persian Gulf
# 17 September 2012 13:06 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Konul Jafarli – APA. The United States and more than two dozen allies are gearing up for the largest naval exercise ever in the Middle East focused on countering the threat of anti-ship mines. A wary Iran says it will be watching closely. The maneuvers starting next week are the latest flexing of American military muscle in and around the Persian Gulf, even as Washington tries to convince ally Israel that diplomacy and sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to scale back its nuclear program need more time to work, APA reports quoting Associated Press.

"This is one of many engagements conducted alongside regional defense forces," said Lt. Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the Navy’s 5th Fleet. "Freedom of navigation through international waterways is critical to the international community and to nations in the region, including Iran."

The exercises, which will focus on a hypothetical extremist organization, are a way to boost cooperation with foreign navies and prepare to deal with threats that could block vital trade routes at sea, American officials say. Raelson noted that waterborne bombs have struck a number of ships in the region in recent years, including a mysterious blast that damaged the Japanese oil tanker M. Star as it entered the Strait of Hormuz in 2010. An obscure Al Qaeda-linked group later claimed responsibility for that attack.
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THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED