De-mining exercise begins off Iran's coast

Sept. 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM
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MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- A massive mine-sweeping exercise involving 30 countries is under way on the seas around Bahrain, say military officials.

The maneuvers are intended as a show of force to Iran, which Western countries are trying to convince to be more transparent about its nuclear program, CNN reported Friday.

The 2-week-long exercise will involve surface ships, aircraft, underwater ordnance disposal dive teams and even remotely operated submersibles.

U.S. military officials said the exercises are strictly defensive, noting that more than 500 ships sail through the Strait of Hormuz every week.

Iran has threatened to mine the strait if the West doesn't relax economic sanctions intended to force Iran to be more forthcoming about its nuclear enrichment activities.

While the United States has been promoting the large number of countries involved in the military exercise, about two-thirds of those countries don't want their participation made public. Only about half a dozen will actually send ships.

The situation with Iran has become so ticklish that some U.S. naval ships are strapping video cameras to their guns when passing through the Strait of Hormuz, should documentary evidence be needed in the event of some sort of encounter.

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