0414 GMT June 21, 2021
The deputy commander of Iranian Navy underlined the significance of the ongoing Iran-Russia-China naval drills, saying establishment of security in the Indian Ocean guarantees economic interests at the world level.
“North of the Indian Ocean is one of the most important waterways in the world and plays an important role in international trade,” Admiral Gholamreza Tahani said, addressing a briefing attended by commanders from the Russian and Chinese navies, according to IRNA.
“Ensuring full security of shipping lines in the region, especially in the area between the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca and the Bab al-Mandab Strait…, safeguards economic interests on the global stage on the one hand, and necessitates cooperation and convergence among different navies on the other,” he said.
The deputy commander of Iranian Navy further highlighted the importance of the joint naval drills of Iran, Russia and China and pointed out that common maritime threats and political developments between the governments of the three countries have helped the navies to boost their cooperation.
The naval drills, the first of their kind, were launched on Friday with the aim of securing international trade routes in strategic waterways and boosting preparedness among participants against piracy and marine terrorism.
The three allies have sent some of their most advanced vessels to take part in the four-day exercises.
Tahani, chief of Iranian flotilla, said the maneuvers cover 17,000 square kilometers and consist of "various tactical exercises" including target practice and rescuing ships from assaults and fires.
"Among the objectives of this exercise are improving the security of international maritime trade, countering maritime piracy and terrorism, exchanging information regarding rescue operations and operational and tactical experience," he said on Friday.
The senior military official also stressed that the joint drills serve as a signal to the world that ties between Tehran, Moscow and Beijing have reached a "meaningful" level.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a Twitter message on Friday said the drills with China and Russia "make clear our broader commitment to secure vital waterways."
The US Defense Department has said it was "monitoring" the trilateral naval drills.
Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly claimed on Friday that Iran could carry out "provocative actions" in the Strait of Hormuz and elsewhere in that region.
"I think they're going to continue to perform provocative actions over there... and I think they'll look at every opportunity they can to do that," he told Reuters.
The United States has been trying to persuade its allies into a coalition with the purported aim of providing “security” for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic Middle Eastern shipping lanes.
Washington claims Tehran played a role in two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to support the accusations, which Iran has categorically dismissed.
The US has deployed troops and missile systems to Saudi Arabia following escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has always maintained that foreign military presence brings insecurity to the region.