WASHINGTON – The United States will join forces with 20 of its allies in favor of minesweeping maneuvers in the Persian Gulf in September, the Pentagon said.
The exercise, held amid growing tensions vis-à-vis Iran, "will focus on a hypothetical threat to mine the international strategic waterways of the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf," the US Central Command said.
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The drill – "International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2012" – means to demonstrate the international community's "ability to work together to ensure free and secure trade," General James Mattis, commander of the Central Command, said.
Iranian speedboat in Strait of Hormuz (Photo: AFP)
"Of the approximately 40 bilateral and multilateral exercises we’ll conduct this year, this exercise also represents the extensive cooperation we enjoy with our international partners, both in and outside the region, with mutual economic and security interests," Mattis added. "We’ll finish this exercise with even stronger relationships with our partners."
The maritime drill will not be extended into the waters of the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran had previously threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's oil supplies are shipped, over the escalating international economic sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.
The announcement about the pending exercise follows a Pentagon decision to bolster deployment in the Middle East.
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