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Persian Gulf War Games to Stop Nuclear Smuggling

WASHINGTON: The United States will lead international naval manoeuvres in the Gulf off Iran’s west coast next week aimed at fighting weapons proliferation, a US State Department official said Friday. The announcement came in the context of tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme and reports of possible terror threats against oil installations in the Gulf. The exercise, hosted by Bahrain in international waters, will start in the Gulf tomorrow and will involve vessels from the United States, France, Italy, Australia, Britain as well as Bahrain, said a senior State Department official. Aircraft and other “operational assets” will be provided by those six nations, the State Department said. The exercises will simulate inspection of ships carrying illicit weapons-related materials, the official said. Another 19 countries in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) will take a minor part in the exercise.

The exercise will practice interdicting a “target vessel carrying materials useful to a nuclear weapon program,” destined for a “country of proliferation concern in the region,” a State Department official explained. Although the official, who insisted on anonymity, did not mention Iran, the manoeuvres come as the five powers of the United Nations Security Council mull a resolution to hit Iran with sanctions for ignoring a UN call to halt uranium enrichment. The US and key European states believe Iran’s enrichment programme is designed to supply material for a nuclear weapon, while Tehran insists its fuel processing is for peaceful purposes.

Kuwait Times

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