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Iran's Revolutionary Guards Chief Says War Games Were Warning To Israel

By RFE/RL December 24, 2021

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) says war games conducted this week in the country were intended to send a message to Israel.

The military drill, which reportedly included firing ballistic and cruise missiles, ended on December 24.

"These exercises had a very clear message: a serious, real...warning to threats by the Zionist regime's authorities to beware of their mistakes," Guards chief General Hossein Salami told state television.

Tehran's announcement was swiftly condemned by Britain, which said Iran's use of ballistic missiles was a "threat to regional and international security."

"The launch is a clear breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which requires that Iran not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons -- including launches using ballistic missile technology," the British Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 24.

It urged Iran "to immediately cease its activities."

Iran's Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri said 16 ballistic missiles of different classes had been fired simultaneously and had destroyed predetermined targets.

Bagheri's claims could not be verified independently, and Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its military capabilities.

"These exercises were designed to respond to threats made in recent days by the Zionist regime," Bagheri told state media.

Israel has long hinted that it could resort to preemptive strikes to deny Iran the means to make a bomb. Israel is widely believed to be the only Middle Eastern country with a nuclear arsenal.

Tehran says all its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Iran has accelerated its nuclear advances as negotiations to return to the accord struggle to make headway. The talks will resume on December 27.

The military drills began on December 20 in the south of the country.

The drills came as U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan met on December 22 with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett amid the Jewish state's opposition to efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Bennett has accused Iran of "nuclear blackmail" and charged that revenue it gained from sanctions relief would be used to acquire weapons to harm Israelis.

Sullivan told reporters in Israel that Washington continues to believe that "diplomacy, deterrence, and pressure" remain the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP and IRNA

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/31624686.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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