Monday, November 21, 2011
Iran army tests defenses as nuclear tensions rise
TEHRAN - The Iranian army is conducting a four-day training exercise
to test its defenses, Press TV reported on Saturday, amid rising
international tensions over Iran's nuclear program.
Iranian state television reported that the war games started on Friday
and were taking place over 800,000 square km in the east of the country.
"The initial stage of the drills will assess the units' performance in setting up primary and secondary command centers and stationing tactical and swift reaction divisions," Press TV said.
Both Israel and the United States say they do not rule out striking Iran militarily if other means fail to stop the nuclear work that Tehran says is entirely peaceful.
However, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has played down talk of any such action, warning that a war with Iran would harm the world economy.
The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has expressed "increasing concern" about Iran's nuclear program, after a UN report said the Islamic state appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb, a charge Iran has repeatedly denied.
Powers united in opposition to nuclear Iran
The White House said on Saturday that Iran is facing an unprecedented degree of isolation, with major world powers united in their opposition to Tehran getting a nuclear weapon.
"Russia, China and the United States I can tell you share a similar goal, and that is to not seeing the Iranians move toward the development of nuclear weapons," US national security adviser Tom Donilon told reporters.
"The degree of isolation really is unprecedented," he said, referring a Friday vote by the United Nations nuclear watchdog IAEA expressing concerns about Iran's nuclearprogram.
US President Barack Obama discussed Tehran's nuclear ambitions with Russian and Chinese leaders last week during an Asia-Pacific summit he hosted in Hawaii.