Iran, Russia, China start joint maritime drill in Indian Ocean, Gulf of Oman

Iran, China and Russia started four days of joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman on Friday, the commander of Iran’s flotilla announced.
The exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions since the United States withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May last year.
“The message of this exercise is peace, friendship and lasting security through cooperation and unity… and its effect will be to show that Iran cannot be isolated,” Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani said on state television.
Tahani added that the drills included rescuing ships on fire or vessels under attack by pirates and shooting exercises, with both Iran’s navy and its Revolutionary Guards participating.
Notably, the Gulf has become a flash point between Washington and Tehran after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iranian nuclear deal and imposed sanctions on the country in May 2018. Tehran shot down a US surveillance drone in June and seized a British-flagged oil tanker for allegedly violating its territorial waters in July.
Moreover, the naval drills, which will include tactical exercises such as rescuing frigates under attack, began in the port city of Chabahar in southeastern Iran and are due to continue in northern parts of the Indian Ocean.
Russia said the joint exercises were legal and focused on ensuring regional stability. “We are dealing with the issues of maintaining stability in the region, security and the fight against terrorism,” said Maria Zakharova, of the Russian foreign ministry. “This co-operation and interaction is built on both a bilateral and multilateral basis but exclusively on a legal basis.”–DT

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