Feb 6, 2013
The US military announced on Monday an anti-mine exercise in “the Middle East’s international waterways” in May with more than 20 nations participating, the latest show of global will to keep waterways open as tensions with Iran simmer.
Israel’s Navy is also expected to take part in the drill, which was characterized as defensive and a follow-up to the IMCMEX 12 exercise held last September, focused on keeping oil shipping lanes open by clearing mines that potentially Iran, or even terror groups, might deploy to disrupt tanker traffic.
“This year’s effort will reaffirm the ongoing, global cooperation that this mission enjoys with the international community’s strong support for free trade,” General James Mattie, commander of the US military’s Central Command, said in a statement.
US officials have in the past sought to play down any link between the drills and ongoing tensions with Iran, which is pushing forward with a nuclear program the West fears is aimed at giving it the capability to build an atomic bomb. Tehran says the program is peaceful.