IRAN SAYS IT WILL EXPAND MILITARY TIES WITH RUSSIA, HOLD JOINT DRILLS AS U.S. TRIES TO BUILD RIVAL COALITION
Iranian naval commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said Monday that he signed an unprecedented memorandum of understanding with Russia, largely involving the two countries’ naval forces, and that it “may be considered as a turning point in relations of Tehran in Moscow,” according to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency. The news came as Khanzadi was visiting St. Petersburg to celebrate Russia’s Navy Day and he further announced that “joint Russian-Iranian exercises in the Indian Ocean are expected to take place soon.”
“When we talk about the Indian Ocean, perhaps the most significant part of the area is the northern Indian Ocean, which flows into the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz and also the Persian Gulf,” Khanzadi said.
Such an exercise would take place in the same waters in which the U.S. has accused Iran of attacking and seizing international vessels in recent months, charges Tehran has denied as it faced mounting sanctions in the wake of Washington’s withdrawal last year from a 2015 nuclear deal with its longtime foe.
The agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was also signed by Russia as well as China, the European Union, France, Germany and the United Kingdom — all of whom still support it in spite of President Donald Trump’s exit. Washington has threatened to hit the countries with sanctions should they engage in trade with blacklisted Iranian business sectors, such as its otherwise lucrative oil industry.
Read More at: News Week
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