A top US commander says a naval exercise involving 41 countries in the Persian Gulf is not directed at Iran and described the maneuvers as "purely defensive."
Vice Admiral John Miller, commander of the US Fifth Fleet, made the comments at a news conference in the Bahraini capital Manama on Sunday, AFP reported.
Miller said the maneuvers are not provocative and are “about a secure maritime environment."
The United States and its allies began the first phase of the joint military exercise, the so-called International Mine Countermeasures Exercise, in the Persian Gulf on May 6. The second phase of the drill will kick off on May 13 and will last for two weeks.
The drill is hosted by the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and includes oil spill response, shipping escort and protecting offshore terminals, in addition to minesweeping and flying drones.
The three-phase drill includes 35 ships, 18 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and more than 100 explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) divers, according to the US Navy.
On May 7, Iran’s former Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned the US and other foreign forces conducting the military exercise in the Persian Gulf that “any move in the area will be monitored by Iran’s defense forces.”
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari has also stated that arrogant countries have endangered regional security by conducting various maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.
The naval maneuver is the second US-led military exercise in the region in less than a year.