US Leads Naval Exercise Amid Israel, Iran Tensions

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Naval power from 25 countries, including the United States and Great Britain, are in the Persian Gulf for what they call a 12-day minesweeping exercise.

The U.S.-led operation, which began Sunday, came amid threats from Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz. Tensions between the Islamic Republic and Israel have escalated over Iran's its nuclear program.

"Our response to Israel is clear: I think nothing will remain of Israel (should it attack Iran)," Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, warned Sunday.

"Given Israel's small land area and its vulnerability to a massive volume of Iran's missiles, I don't think any spot in Israel will remain safe," he said.

U.S. officials denied the 12-day exercise has anything to do with hostilities between Iran and Israel.

"This exercise is about mines and the international effort to clear them," Reuters quoted Vice Admiral John Miller, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Monday.

"Represented here are the best of our individual countries' efforts dedicated to securing the global maritime commons," he said.

Some experts, however, say the maneuvers are clearly intended to send Iran a message.

"Despite the fact that the Department of Defense indicated that it's not directed at Iran … it is sending a good signal to potential adversaries that we can deal with any threat that's thrown at us, particularly if it's the mine threat," Scott Truver, an expert on navy operations and mine warfare, told "PBS Newshour."

Nearly 18 million barrels of oil are transported daily through the 21-mile wide straight. It's bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the Oman to the south.

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