The U.S. will take part in a 20-nation defensive exercise to counter mining of strategic waterways in the Middle East, Fox News
The move, Defense Department press Secretary George Little said, is scheduled for Sept. 16-27 and not aimed to deliver a message to Iran but is a defensive drill, Fox News reported.
Iran, as recently as Sunday, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz unless sanctions against it were revoked, though it remains unclear how Tehran could shut down the vital oil shipping channel given the significant American military presence there.
"This is a defensive exercise aimed at preserving freedom of navigation in the international waterways of the Middle East and aimed at promoting regional stability," Little said, according to Fox News.
The upcoming exercise will focus on "a hypothetical threat from an extremist organization to mine the international strategic waterways of the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf, although exercise activities will not extend into the Strait of Hormuz," U.S. Central Command said in a statement, Fox News reported.
The United States has beefed up its presence in the Gulf, adding a navy ship last week to help mine-clearing operations if Iran were to act on its threats.
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