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Iran, Russia conduct naval exercise

July 30, 2009 at 7:56 PM   |   Comments

TEHRAN, July 30 (UPI) -- Iran and Russian launched their first-ever joint maritime operations in the Caspian Sea touted as part of an effort to enhance security in the region.

The joint operation was launched from the northern Iranian port city of Bandar Anzali under the slogan of "clean and secure Caspian Sea depends on regional interaction," reports the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network.

Ali Taher Abadi, the managing director of the Ports and Navigation Organization in Iran, said the operation included measures to stem environmental pollution in the Caspian Sea.

Lawmakers with an environmental party in Azerbaijan complained recently that activity related to the energy sector in the Caspian Sea was creating financial difficulties as a result of environmental pollution.

Saeed Izadian, who oversees the naval operation for Iran, said 30 advanced boats, 2 Iranian helicopters and around 500 military forces will take part in the exercise alongside their Russian counterparts.

He said the strategic emphasis of the operation was meant to train forces on search and rescue operations, adding the exercise fell within the framework of international obligations.

Claims to the Caspian Sea are contentious among the littoral states, which are at odds over a 1921 treaty that divided the region between Iran and the Soviet Union.

Only Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan have settled their territorial claims in the Caspian Sea, leaving Iran and Turkmenistan with frustrating differences.

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