Iran will hold joint naval drills with China and Russia starting on December 27, the head of Iran’s navy said on Tuesday.
Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi made the comments on the exercise, called Marine Security Belt, during a meeting with a Chinese military official in Tehran, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Khanzadi called for further military cooperation with China, including collaboration on the production of destroyers and submarines.
Last week, Khanzadi said that the drill would take place in the northern Indian Ocean, without announcing the date, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.
Iran, China and Russia are all rivals of the US, which last month launched a naval operation in Bahrain to protect shipping in the troubled waters of the Persian Gulf.
The launching of the US-led international effort followed a string of attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities in the region that Washington and its allies blamed on Iran, a charge it denies. Australia and the UK are the main countries participating in the US-led coalition.
Most European governments have declined to participate, fearful of undermining their efforts to save the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which was badly weakened by Washington’s withdrawal last year.
The Trump administration, with its close ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia, adversaries of Iran, has put a priority on curbing Tehran’s regional influence including by imposing sweeping sanctions, plunging the Islamic Republic into an economic crisis.
Recent mass protests sparked by a hike in fuel prices in Iran have killed over 200 people, according to Amnesty International. Iran has accused the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia of engineering the demonstrations.