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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran completes large-scale Air Force, air defense drills

RIA Novosti

18/09/2008 20:56 TEHRAN, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - Iran has completed a three-day series of Air Force and missile defense exercises throughout the country, the Air Force commander said Thursday.

"The exercise, named Defenders of Velayat, is successfully completed," Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani said. "We have accomplished all set tasks of the maneuvers."

Iran has conducted several high-profile war games this year, while promising a powerful retaliation in the event of any act of aggression against the country. The United States and Israel have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military action against Iran over its refusal to halt its nuclear program.

Iran recently took delivery of 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defense missile systems under a $700 million contract signed in late 2005. Russia has also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.

In July, Iran successfully launched an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles), and several missiles with a range of 350 kilometers (217 miles) as part of the Great Prophet III military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, drawing a new wave of international criticism.

Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation despite Western accusations that the program is geared toward weapon production.

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