Earlier today, 25 nations took part in a U.S.-led naval exercise in waters not far from Iran aimed at training forces to block the transport of weapons of mass destruction and related equipment. Italy, the U.S., Australia, Britain, France and Bahrain deployed ships and personnel to the drill, part of President Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). Other countries, including the UAE, Qatar, Pakistan and South Korea, sent observers.
About 20 miles from Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf, Italian and Bahraini marines sped through the water in small inflatable bloats and boarded a British vessel, the RFA Brambleleaf, which was carrying mock nuclear detonators. Marines armed with machine guns guarded the crew as another team searched the vessel.
Iran said it was not concerned about the exercise but warned those participating not to destabilize the region. "Given the amicable ties among countries of the region and the powerful presence of ... Iran as standard bearer of peace, justice and security, there is no room for any concern," the official IRNA news agency quoted government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as saying.
Several Middle Eastern countries have endorsed PSI principles this year after visits by U.S. officials to the region were stepped up, a State Department official who declined to be identified said. Sunni Gulf Arab states have traditionally been wary of Iran's Shiite imperialistic intentions in the region.
One major player that was not present was Russia, perhaps because of President Vladimir Putin's desire for further talks on Iran's nuclear program. Russia is not convinced there is a case for tougher sanctions against Iran and is at present time building an atomic reactor in Iran. If you're not convinced that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons, then you probably wouldn't see the utility today's PSI exercise.