Th senior spokesman of Iran’s armed forces announced Wednesday that joint naval exercises lasting four days between Russia, China and Iran will start on December 27 in Sea of Oman and northern Indian Ocean.
This is the first time the three countries conduct a joint naval exercise in the waters of northern Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman.
Following the expansion of U.S. sanctions against Iran in May, Tehran has been keen to expand its military cooperation with Russia and China as a strategic response to U.S. pressures. The presence of Russian and Chinese naval vessels in Iranian ports has increased in recent months.
Abolfazl Shekarchi the spokesman of Iran’s armed forces told a news conference, “Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman are key routes for international trade and many countries use these routes and therefore establishment of security in this region is vital and crucial”.
He added that Iran has proven its commitment to the stability and security of international sea lanes, especially in this key region.
In May and June two mysterious attacks on oil tankers took place in the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf, which the United States and Saudi Arabia blamed on Iran. Tehran has rejected the accusation.
After these attacks the United States formed a coalition to protect shipping in the region. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Kingdom, Albania and Australia have joined the coalition.
European countries have also formed their own coalition with the same goal of protesting shipping.
Shekarchi also claimed that the joint naval drills aim to reinforce shared experiences to prevent terrorism, piracy and readiness in sea rescue operations.
Iran and China held a small joint naval exercise in 2017.