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Gulf military exercise rattles Iran

TEHRAN, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Warships from six nations will participate in the two-day Exercise Leading Edge maneuvers in the Persian Gulf, drawing swift condemnation from Iran.

Newstalk ZB reported Oct. 28 that New Zealand will be involved in the operation, which U.S. officials say is intended to train participants in halting ships carrying nuclear materials. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter is the sole American ship among the nine vessels taking part in Leading Edge

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Exercise Leading Edge is occurring as major powers consider possible United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Bahrain, will participate in an exercise for the first time under a three-year-old non-proliferation security initiative.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Brad Tattersfield said that while New Zealand will be contributing and exchanging data with participants, no New Zealand ships are participating in the exercise.

Iran News reported Oct. 29 that Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters in Tehran: "We are watching their movements, very carefully. We do not consider this exercise appropriate. U.S. moves go in the direction of more adventurism, not of stability and security. Countries of the region can provide security better than any other party."

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