Iran: Timing "sensitive" for U.S.-led Gulf exercises

Fishing boats are seen in front of oil tankers on the Persian Gulf waters, south of the Strait of Hormuz, off the shores of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. File,AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

(AP) TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's foreign ministry says the country will closely monitor U.S.-led naval exercises planned for next week in the Persian Gulf.

Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters on Tuesday that the military maneuvers are a "very sensitive phenomenon" amid rising tensions over Tehran's nuclear program.

The U.S.-led exercises are to include minesweeping operations seen as a direct response to Iranian warnings earlier this year that it could close the strategic oil shipping routes through the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for tighter Western sanctions. Tehran later withdrew the threat, but the region still faces risks of possible Israeli military action against Iran's nuclear sites.

The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies.

Iran usually conducts its own war games in the fall.

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