U.S. claims ‘Maritime Security Belt’ wargame by Iran, Russia and China is provocative 

December 29, 2019 - 22:10

Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly reacted on Friday to the maritime joint drills by Iran, China and Russia in the Sea of Oman and north of the Indian Ocean, claiming the wargame is a provocative action. 

The joint naval drill, codenamed “Marine Security Belt”, started on Friday and will last until Monday.

“I think they’re going to continue to perform provocative actions over there... and I think they’ll look at every opportunity they can do that,” Modly told Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that President Donald Trump is considering deploying nearly 14,000 more troops to the Middle East, which could include dozens more ships and equipment.

The deployment of 14,000 additional troops would double the forces U.S. officials already announced were deploying in the region.

Modly further suggested that the U.S. reactions to the Iranian actions could take away from the Pentagon’s focus toward priorities like countering China.

“As they start creating mischief over there... our reaction is sending an aircraft carrier over there for 10 months,” he said.

Modly’s warning on future actions coincides with China, Iran, and Russia beginning joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman.

On Saturday, Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani, the deputy commander of the Iranian Navy, highlighted the importance of establishing security in the Indian Ocean, saying it would guarantee the economic interests of countries.

Tahani said that the north of the Indian Ocean is one of the most important waterways in the world and plays an important role in international trade.

“Ensuring full security of shipping lines in the region, especially in the area between the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca and the Bab al-Mandab Strait… safeguards economic interests on the global stage on the one hand and necessitates cooperation and convergence among different navies on the other hand,” Tahani remarked.

He also said common maritime threats facing Iran, China and Russia have helped their navies boost trilateral cooperation.

According to Tahani, the exercise covers 17,000 square kilometers and consist of "various tactical exercises," which include target practice and rescuing ships from assaults and fires.

It is the first time since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 that Iran is staging such a large-scale drill with Russia and China as the second and third greatest military powers in the world respectively.

Tahani said certainly those countries that share security, economic, political, and defense interests try to restore collective security in the region together.