persian gulf map 298.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Sunday criticized the United States military presence in the region and slammed a US-led military exercise due to begin in the Persian Gulf, urging nations in the area to set up their own regional security arrangement.
Ships from the US and five other countries are due to interdict a British vessel in the Persian Gulf on Monday in a mock interception of dangerous weapons technology. For the first time, an Arab nation, Bahrain, will participate in an exercise under the three-year-old proliferation security initiative.
"We do not consider this exercise appropriate," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters in Teheran.
Iran has a long coastline on the Gulf, and neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranian spokesman criticized the US military presence along many of the country's borders.
"US moves (in the region) go in the direction of more adventurism, not of stability and security," Hosseini said.
He said Iran found it "not essential" for countries neighboring the Gulf to cooperate with foreign forces, an allusion to the US 5th fleet headquartered in Bahrain and leading Monday's maneuvers. "Countries of the region can provide security better than any other party," said Hosseini.
The US-led maneuvers come as Iran faces the threat of UN Security Council sanctions for its nuclear research program. The Islamic republic says the nuclear program is purely civilian, but the US and other western powers warn it could hide intentions to create an atomic bomb.
Hosseini described the US-led war-games as "adventurous" and said they would not help improve security in Gulf waters, through which a large part of the world's oil transits.
Iranian ships would not be inspected during the maneuver, he said.
The US-led war-games are is geared at getting countries to cooperate in halting shipments of materials that can be used for advanced weapons.
Coalition naval forces in the Gulf are also on heightened watch for possible terror threats to oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Western naval officials warned last week.
France, Italy, Britain and Australia will participate in Monday's exercise, the 25th held under the initiative and the first held in the Persian Gulf.
The practice interception comes as the United States is seeking support for UN sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. On Friday, Iran stepped up its uranium enrichment program.
Bahrain will provide a frigate for the exercise, while Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, three other Arab countries, also will offer a measure of support as observers. Other observers include Russia, Japan and South Korea. Saudi Arabia, the largest of the Gulf countries, has not joined them.