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Iran Stages Massive Military War Games

Iranian soldiers hold a Rocket Propelled Grenade while riding a motorcycle during military manoeuvres at Sistan-Baluchestan province, some 50 kms east of city of Zahedan near the Pakistani border, 19 August 2006. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Aug 19, 2006
Iranian armed forces held a massive military maneuver Saturday to test new weapons and tactics against a potential enemy, state television reported. The first stage of "Zolfaghar Blow" commenced in the restive southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. The maneuvers will continue in 15 other provinces in northeastern, northwestern, western and southern Iran.

"Zolfaghar" was the two-point sword of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed and is a revered figure in Shiite Islam, the dominant religion in Iran.

The chief commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Army said that the country should be ready for possible attacks by the United States and Israel.

"The enemy has gone insane because of the capabilities of Lebanon's Hezbollah. And given the insane enemy's history, we should always be prepared," Major General Ataollah Salehi was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA.

Since the ceasefire in Lebanon on August 14, top Iranian officials have been praising the the Shiite militant group for their resistance.

"The main objective of this operation is to adopt up-to-date tactics and use new equipment to be able to respond to possible threats, enabling us to confront the enemy in several fronts in the country," Brigadier General Kiumars Heydari said.

According to the report, the maneuver tests a new anti-aircraft strategy to "make the air space insecure for the enemy," while using different types of helicopters, fighter planes and land forces warfare.

"We have been alert and watching the world's (war) developments and we have invested in both modern tactics and equipment," Heydari noted.

In April, the Islamic republic unveiled a wide range of weaponry such as multiple-head missiles, high-speed torpedoes and radar-evading anti-ship missiles in a week of military exercises in the strategic Gulf waters to the south. The latest operations come amid rising tensions with the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear program, under suspicion to be a cover for developing an atomic bomb.

Iran has two bodies of armed forces, the traditional army and the elite Revolutionary Guards, an ideological army, equipped with terrestrial, naval and air units. All are under the command of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran military exercises show danger of nuclear ambitions: US

The White House said Sunday that Iran's military exercises, which included a short-range missile test, was a reminder of the danger of the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions.

President George W. Bush's administration also recalled that Iran has until August 31 to respond to a UN Security Council demand that it suspend uranium enrichment and warned that failure to comply could swiftly lead to sanctions.

"We have made clear that if Iran fails to comply with the Security Council's mandate we will move quickly at the United Nations to impose sanctions," Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The White House statement came after Iran test-fired a short-range, surface-to-surface missile during the second day of nationwide military exercises in a demonstration of its readiness to "respond to any threat," state television reported, Iranian state television reported.

"Iran's show of military force while it continues to defy the international community's unanimous demands regarding its nuclear program serves to remind us of the dangers of its nuclear ambitions," Lawrimore said.

"Iran sits at the nexus of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism; we know that Iran is producing and developing delivery systems that could threaten our friends and allies in the Middle East and Europe and eventually the United States itself," she said.

Mubarak Warns Against Strike On Iran Criticizes Syria

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Saturday that a military strike against Iran over its nuclear program would destabilize the Middle East and implicitly criticized Syria for meddling in Lebanese politics.

"The conflict between Iran and the United States must be resolved through diplomacy and a direct dialogue because a strike against Iran would mean an end to stability in the Middle East and worldwide," Mubarak was quoted as saying in the state-run newspaper Akhbar al-Yom.

The Egyptian leader stressed that Iran was an important country in the region and that relations between nations fall under treaties and conventions that forbid one country from interfering in the internal affairs of another.

The United States on Thursday said it will move quickly for UN Security Council action on sanctions against Iran if Tehran refuses to halt uranium enrichment by month's end.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes but the United States and other countries believe the Islamic republic is intent on developing nuclear weapons.

Mubarak also implicitly criticized Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad for remarks earlier this week in which he denounced certain Arab and Lebanese leaders for their stand on the war between Israel and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

"The current situation leaves no room for political one-upmanship and all efforts must focus on tightening Arab ranks," Mubarak is quoted as saying.

He warned against any attempt to meddle in internal Lebanese politics and urged that country's parties to avoid any bickering that could threaten national unity.

"Lebanese unity will be an utmost necessity in the next phase," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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