Washington, July 17 : The Pentagon is reportedly building a missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar and organizing its biggest-ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf, in anticipation of a possible flare-up with Iran, American officials have revealed.
Washington has claimed that the radar site would complete the backbone of a system designed to defend U. S. interests and their allies such as Israel and the European nations against Iranian rockets, while the minesweeping exercises, in September, which will be the first such multilateral drills in the region, are yet to be announced formally.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon''s moves reflect concern that tensions with Iran could intensify as the full weight of sanctions targeting that country''s oil exports takes hold this summer.
Though U. S. officials described both the radar site and the naval exercises as defensive in nature, the deployments will be seen by Iran as provocative, the report said.
The radar site will reportedly enable U. S. officials and allied militaries to track missiles launched from deep inside Iran, which has an arsenal of missiles capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe.
Intelligence agencies believe that Iran could possess a ballistic missile that could threaten the U. S. as early as 2015.
Analysts have claimed that the Pentagon chose to place the new radar site in Qatar because it is home to the largest U. S. military air base in the region, the Al Udeid Air Base, as more than 8,000 troops are stationed there and at another U. S. base in Qatar.
Officials said the location of the new site in Qatar was being kept secret because of the sensitivity surrounding any U. S. military deployments in the emirate.
In the coming minesweeping exercises, the U. S. and its allies will practice detecting and destroying mines with ships, helicopters and robotic underwater drones in the Persian Gulf and other locations in the region, the report said.
Qatari officials in Washington and Doha didn''t respond to requests for comment. (ANI)