LONDON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Britain has militarily joined the United States in the Persian Gulf in a bid to rein in Iran's growing influence in the Middle East.
The Times of London reported Tuesday Britain has committed two mine-hunting ships for an unusually long two-year stint in the Gulf to keep shipping routes open in the event that Iran attempts to block oil exports.
The Bush administration has accused Iran of helping Shiite militia groups in Iraq and is the leading opponent of Tehran's growing nuclear program. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the military build-up was part of a strategy to confront Iran's "destabilizing behavior."
Dr. Ali Ansari, an Iranian expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, told the Times he was uneasy over the military escalation.
"This is an accidental war waiting to happen," Ansari said. "Even with the best will in the world crises are not easily managed. Before you know it you can lose control of the situation."