Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Iran Launches Air Defense Exercises

The Iranian armed forces on Nov. 16 launched exercises to test Iran's air-defense systems, said a senior commander, according to the Fars news agency.

"Air-defense systems which use short, medium and long-range missiles in addition to the newer version of aerial defense systems will be tested" during the five-day exercises across Iran, Hamid Arjangi said, without giving details. Iran is at odds with the West over its nuclear program.

The website of Iran's English-language Press TV said the drills were also being held near "nuclear and vital landmarks, and include tests of long-range anti-air missiles."

Tehran is under mounting international pressure over its controversial nuclear program, which the West fears masks a drive to build atomic weapons - a charge the Islamic republic persistently denies.

The United States and its ally Israel have not ruled out a military strike to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, prompting Tehran to threaten a crushing response.

Another senior military commander said on Sunday that Iran has already carried out defense drills at its sensitive nuclear facilities.

"This year, we carried out tactical drills which resembled real combat in Fordo, Tehran, Natanz, Bushehr and Isfahan," where the country's nuclear plants are located, the Mehr news agency quoted Ahmad Mighani as saying.

Iran's armed forces regularly conduct such exercises to show off the country's military prowess and test-fire what they boast are home-made missiles.

Following the latest package of U.N. sanctions on Iran, Russia refused to deliver long sought-after S-300 ground-to-air missiles.

But a senior military figure said Nov. 10 that Iran would soon test its own version of the S-300. It was unclear whether that would be during the current war games.

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