Israel Concerned as Iran Conducts War Games
By Robert Berger
10 July 2008
A second day of military exercises in Iran is causing anxiety in nearby Israel. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.
Israel has responded to Iranian war games, saying they show Iran's belligerent intentions. Israel is especially concerned about Iran's test firing of long-range missiles capable of hitting the Jewish state.
"If those missiles will one day be equipped with nuclear warheads, this will produce [an] existential threat to Israel," said Yuval Steinitz, a senior member of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear program since late 2005, when the Iranian president threatened to wipe the Jewish state "off the map."
Iran said the military exercises are aimed at showing that the nation can defend itself from an attack by Israel or the United States.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Steinitz believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them.
"Therefore we have to do our utmost to stop the Iranian nuclear project before such missiles can really become devastating," he said.
Israel believes the West is not being tough enough on Iran, and it has threatened to launch a pre-emptive strike if sanctions fail.
Meanwhile, in a show of strength, Israel publicly displayed its newest spy plane equipped with sophisticated intelligence-gathering technology and electronic warfare systems. Officials say it is a message that Israel is closely watching Iran's nuclear facilities.
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