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Iran Stages War Games to Test Air Defenses

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iran staged air defense exercises on Monday and said anyone attacking the Islamic Republic would regret it.

Dozens of aircraft took part in the maneuvers, in which an imaginary enemy would attack Iran's air defenses. The air force drill was staged in half of Iran's 30 provinces.

Iran has said neither the United States nor the Israeli forces are in a position to strike but has vowed to strike back at Israel and US interests and shipping if attacked.

Military analysts say Iran's real ability to respond could be with more asymmetric tactics than a missile salvo.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani said the exercise was staged to increase military readiness.

Iran is estimated to have over 300 combat aircraft, including Russian-made MiG 29 aircraft.

Miqani informed reporters at a press conference that all of the Iranian Air Force's antiaircraft units were taking part in the drill, and that the dozens of planes and jets taking part in the drill are "breaking in new equipment, trying out new strategies and doing what needs to be done to increase readiness".

"If Iran is attacked, it will deliver a crushing blow to the enemy...we will surprise the enemy and make them regret they attacked," Miqani said.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Sunday that the drill, held by the air force and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was meant to improve the "defensive, tactical and operational abilities of the forces".

The drill is taking place against a backdrop of growing threats by the US and the Zionist regime to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

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.

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.

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.

The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran's nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West's allegations.

Following the said reports by the US and international bodies, many world states have called the UN Security Council pressure against Tehran unjustified, demanding that Iran's case be normalized and returned from the UNSC to the IAEA.

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

... Payvand News - 09/17/08 ... --

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