WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. military is working with Middle Eastern allies to strengthen missile defense in the Persian Gulf, a U.S. State Department official said.
U.S. military assets have been positioned in the Persian Gulf to protect shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz, a key conduit for oil transits from the region.
Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the State Department, said the missile threat to U.S. forces deployed overseas was growing.
"The U.S. has a robust security partnership, including missile defense with our allies and partners in the gulf and is committed to their security," he said. "The U.S. will continue to work with our partners in the Middle East to strengthen missile defense in the Persian Gulf."
Defense Department documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate there are plans to send $4.2 billion in advanced missile systems to Kuwait. The United Arab Emirates was the recipient of more than $12 billion in U.S. missile defense programs during the past four years.
The United States and Russia are at odds over plans for missile defense in Eastern Europe. The U.S. government says the defense shield is needed to deter Iran, though the Kremlin said the deployment would upset the strategic balance in the region.