State sponsor of terror Iran and communist China began holding a joint military exercise in the Persian Gulf this week, where provocative clashes between the U.S. Navy and ships from the Islamic Republic have escalated in recent years.
Soon after taking office, President Donald Trump slapped sanctions against individuals and corporate entities in both countries for assisting Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
In November 2016, the Islamic Republic announced that it had signed a military cooperation agreement with China, vowing to hold drills and “create a collective movement to confront” the threat of terrorism.
The U.S. Navy has experienced provocative interactions with both countries.
However, more dangerous confrontations have arisen between Iranian ships and the U.S. Navy in recent years.
In August 2016, Fox News reported that provocative clashes between Iran and the United States in the Persian Gulf have nearly doubled in the first half of 2016 to nineteen from ten during the same period the previous year.
Citing the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Reuters now reports that Iran and China began a joint naval drill in the Persian Gulf on Sunday.
“The military drill comes at a time of heightened tension between the Iranian and U.S. military in the Gulf and is likely to be a cause of concern for Washington,” it acknowledges, adding:
An Iranian destroyer and two Chinese destroyers are among the vessels that will participate in the exercise, which will take place in the eastern portion of the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman, according to IRNA. Some 700 Iranian navy personnel will be participating in the drill.
President Trump has taken a more confrontational approach to Iran than his predecessor.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has deemed Iran “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
Meanwhile, the president has signaled a new approach towards China, willing to cooperate with the country when possible.
In May, Trump’s Treasury Department designated Chinese national Ruan Runling for sanctions, arguing that he “provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of Iran’s Shiraz Electronics Industries.”
Shiraz supplies the Iranian military with missile guidance technology.
To the dismay of the United States, Iran announced at the start of the Trump administration it was conducting military drills involving ballistic missile tests.
At a time of heightened tensions with the United States in February, Shiite Iran carried drills involving short-range missiles.
In March, Iran test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles. Both Iran and China border the war-ravaged Afghanistan region, home to the highest concentration of terrorist groups in the world.