GeriGündem U.S. officials say exercise by Israel seemed directed at Iran
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U.S. officials say exercise by Israel seemed directed at Iran

U.S. officials say exercise by Israel seemed directed at Iran
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Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the New York Times reported on Friday, as more than 100 Israeli jets participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece during the first week of June.

Several American officials told the New York Times (NYT) the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.          

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

The exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, the NYT reported.

Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of the exercise. A spokesman for the Israeli military would say only that the country’s air force “regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.”     

But the scope of the Israeli exercise virtually guaranteed that it would be noticed by American and other foreign intelligence agencies. A senior Pentagon official who has been briefed on the exercise, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the matter, said the exercise appeared to serve multiple purposes.

One Israeli goal, the Pentagon official said, was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.

A second, the official said, was to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter. 

“They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know,” the Pentagon official was quoted by the NYT as saying. “There’s a lot of signaling going on at different levels.”

Several American officials said they did not believe that the Israeli government had concluded that it must attack Iran and did not think that such a strike was imminent.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran for defying council demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment program, which could be used to make fuel for power plants or atomic weapons.

Iran has refused to buckle to the sanctions and has spurned previous offers of economic benefits to suspend its uranium enrichment, which it says is to produce fuel for electrical power plants rather than for nuclear weapons.

Iran said Thursday it was ready to negotiate over a new package of economic incentives put forward by major powers seeking to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear work.

Photo: Reuters

 

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