Press TV – Joint maritime maneuvers, involving the Russian, Chinese and Iranian Navies, have entered their second day in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman.
The naval drills, the first of their kind, were launched on Friday with the aim of securing international trade routes in strategic waterways and boosting preparedness among participants against piracy and marine terrorism.
The three countries have sent some of their most advanced vessels to take part in the four-day exercises.
Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said the drills are designed to heighten security in the region’s crucially important waterways.
Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani, Iranian flotilla chief, said the maneuvers will cover 17,000 square kilometers and consist of “various tactical exercises,” including target practice and rescuing ships from assaults and fires.
“Among the objectives of this exercise are improving the security of international maritime trade, countering maritime piracy and terrorism, exchanging information regarding rescue operations and operational and tactical experience,” he said.
Tahani also stressed that the joint drills serve as a signal to the world that ties between Tehran, Moscow and Beijing have reached a “meaningful” level.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the naval drills with China and Russia “make clear our broader commitment to secure vital waterways.”
The Pentagon has said the US was “monitoring” the trilateral naval drills.
“We are aware of the multilateral exercise being conducted between Iran, China and Russia in the Arabian Sea. We are monitoring it and will continue to work with our partners and allies to ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waterways,” said Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson on Thursday.
Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly claimed on Friday that Iran could carry out “provocative actions” in the Strait of Hormuz and elsewhere in that region.
“I think they’re going to continue to perform provocative actions over there… and I think they’ll look at every opportunity they can to do that,” he told Reuters.
The United States has been trying to persuade its allies into an international coalition with the declared aim of providing “security” for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic Middle Eastern shipping lanes.
Washington claims Tehran played a role in two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to support the accusations, which Iran has categorically dismissed.
The US has sent troops and missile systems to Saudi Arabia following escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has always reiterated that foreign military presence brings insecurity to the region.