LONDON, May 2 (UPI) -- Britain and the United States are sending 19 underwater drones to the Persian Gulf to conduct a mine counter-measure exercise, military officials said.
Up to 40 nations will take part in the three-week exercise scheduled to start next week, The Guardian newspaper reported from London Thursday.
U.S. Navy Vice-Admiral John Miller is in charge of the exercise and said it should not be viewed as a provocative gesture towards Iran.
"Mine counter-measure activity is an inherently defensive exercise, there cannot be a misinterpretation that it's an offensive exercise in any way," he said.
"It assures [everyone] that if someone puts mines in the water that a large number of nations from across the globe will respond. So if you have nearly 40 nations that are willing to just practice, just imagine how many nations would participate if someone put mines in the water? If you are thinking about putting mines in the water you pay the price for it in terms of world opinion and in relatively rapid fashion those mines are going to be taken out of the water," Miller added.
The other nations involved in the operation were not reported.