Iran Probing Defense Capabilities

A01592009.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Air Force (IAF) began large-scale combat maneuvers in northwestern Iran on Friday.

The exercises began early in the morning with military air craft flying in from various parts of the country to the site of operations near Tabriz, in the East Azerbaijan province.

Air Force sources said all exercises, which included the employment of Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles, the Saeqeh fighters and reconnaissance airplanes as well as F4-, F5-, F-7 and F14 fighter planes, have been carried out successfully.

In the course of the year Iran has held several high-profile military maneuvers, against the backdrop of reiterated declarations from Israel and Washington to mull carrying out air strikes against Iran.

In the face of Israeli and US threats Iran has upgraded its own military defense capabilities. As Air Force commander in chief Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani disclosed in an earlier press briefing, Iran has upgraded its fighter planes to fly distances up to 3.000 kilometers without refueling, allowing Iranian fighters to fly to Israel and return to Iran in non-stop operations.

To safeguard their Israeli ally against retaliatory strikes from Iran, the US are swiftly building up their own military base in the Negev desert, to be outfitted with newest anti-missile technology.

The enhanced direct military engagement of the United States on Israeli territory comes with an eye on reining in Israeli ambitions of independence in foreign policy matters: following the breakdown this summer of its flourishing military cooperation with the current government of Georgia, Israel has turned to Azerbaijan in its search for a hub capable of hosting a siege on Iran other than from Israeli territory.

The Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), an influential pressure-group, has recently denounced promises made by the government in Tel Aviv to equip Azerbaijan’s armed forces with arms and munitions. Moreover, the AAA accused the powerful American Jewish Congress (AJC), a major Zionist organization with international outreach, of pressing the US administration and legislative bodies into supporting the military upgrading of Azerbaijan.

Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill in June. In the first week of June, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.

Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran’s progress in the field of nuclear technology.

Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Intensified threats by Tel Aviv and Washington of military action against Iran contradict a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies which endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear plans and activities.

Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military attack on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “is unlikely” to delay the country’s program.

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