Iran has announced plans to conduct joint naval drills with Russian and Chinese military forces in the international waters of the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman “in the near future.”
Brigadier General Ghadir Nezami, head of the international and diplomatic affairs of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, made the announcement on Saturday, saying that the maritime exercises will be held trilaterally with navy forces of Russia and China in the north of the Indian Ocean and across the Sea of Oman.
“The drills pursue various objectives, namely sharing tactical and military experiences, but they can be political as well and are indicative of some kind of convergence among the participants,” Nezami added.
The Iranian military official stressed that the drills will be held for the first time since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, but made no mention of the exact date of the exercises.
Back in July, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi unveiled plans for a joint naval drill with Russia in coming months with the aim of boosting military cooperation between the two countries particularly with regard to naval forces.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Nezami also announced that Tehran would soon host delegations at the level of military chiefs and defense ministers from certain regional countries, without further elaboration.
Pointing to a recent visit of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri to the Chinese capital of Beijing, Nezami further noted that joint military cooperation between Iran and China was on the rise, particularly in the field of manufacture, purchase and production of army equipment.
Tensions have been running high between Tehran and Washington since last year, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Recently, the US has taken a quasi-warlike posture against Iran and stepped up its provocative military moves in the Middle East, among them the June 20 incursion of an American spy drone into the Iranian borders.
The Saturday announcement comes at a time when the US is forming a naval mission, already joined by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, purportedly aimed at protecting shipping lanes in the Middle Eastern waterways.
The United States has been trying to persuade its allies to join the international coalition with the declared aim of providing “security” for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic shipping lanes in the Middle East.
Washington moved to set up the coalition after pinning the blame on Tehran for two attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in May and June. Tehran rejected the claims, saying the attacks seemed more to be false-flag operations meant to exert pressure on Iran.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined the patrol force in the aftermath of the last Saturday attacks on the Saudi state oil company Aramco.
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