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Massive International Naval Force Converges on Persian Gulf

U.S. officials are calling it a “minesweeping exercise” and saying it’s “not in response to any particular threat or any specific situation,” but some in Tehran might think otherwise. AFP reports:

Naval forces from more than 30 countries were on Monday engaged in a massive minesweeping exercise in the Gulf, US officials said, amid Iranian threats to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz…

The exercise kicked off on Sunday, the same day as the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned of retaliation against the Strait of Hormuz, Israel and nearby US bases if his country is attacked and as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Tehran is “90 percent” toward having a nuclear bomb…

Riad Kahwaji of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai says what officials won’t: this is “a message to all parties in the region: to the allies and Iran, that the U.S. is ready to defend their [sic] common interests, keep the straits and maritime routes open and respond to any attacks against its bases in the region.”

It’s a truly multinational force: “The anti-mine manoeuvres will last through September 27 and involve more than 30 nations including the United States, Britain, Japan, France, Yemen and Jordan.” According to the Telegraph, ships belonging to the UAE and Saudi Arabia are also participating.

Though officially the minesweeping exercise has nothing to do with Iran, the extent of multinational cooperation in the operation suggests just how widespread opposition to Iran’s nuclear program really is.

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