Iran, Russia, China conduct joint military exercise

Iran, Russia and China began joint military exercise in the Arabian Sea and north of the Indian Ocean, according to an Iranian news agency on Dec. 27.

Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that the military exercise by the navies of Iran, Russia, and China will cover an area of 17,000 kilometers and it will last four days.

Speaking about the drill, dubbed Marine Security Belt, the deputy commander of the Iranian Navy Admiral Gholamreza Tahani explained the purpose of the exercise as "to strengthen security and its foundations in the region".

"Since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, it is the first time that the Islamic Republic of Iran holds a combined exercise with the world's two major naval powers at such a level," Tasnim quoted Tahani, who is also the spokesman for the Iran-Russia-China joint naval drills.

"This process will continue in the coming years," he added.

Tensions have been escalating in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea since the U.S. began re-implementing sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear pact that world powers struck with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.

In June, two oil tankers were attacked in the region. Washington held Tehran responsible for the attacks, an accusation denied by Iran.

Analysts believe that the possibility of the U.S. resorting to military action against Iran has grown after drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September.

The U.S. and European Union separately decided to form coalitions for the safety of navigation in the region. Japan also announced a plan to deploy troops in the region.

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