Israel holds military exercises amid Iran tensions

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Dozens of Israeli fighter jets conducted exercises over the Mediterranean and warships held Red Sea drills this week, the army said Thursday, as it readies for different “scenarios” against Iran.

The two arch enemies have been locked in a shadow war that comes amid tensions over stalled efforts to revive a deal meant to ensure Iran is unable to develop a nuclear weapon.

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Israel is staunchly opposed to the 2015 nuclear deal and has vowed to do whatever it takes to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

“We continuously are preparing and training for many scenarios including threats from Iran,” the Israeli military said.

“Dozens of Israeli Air Force fighter jets conducted aerial drills over the Mediterranean Sea to practice a long-range flight and striking distant targets,” it said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

It said the aircraft had “simulated a long-range flight, aerial refueling and striking distant targets” during military exercises held on Tuesday.

The drill was conducted during the “Chariots of Fire” exercise which was supposed to have been held in May 2021 based on the scenario of a conflict with the Palestinians, but it was postponed by an 11-day war with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

On Thursday, the Israeli military said personnel from “missile ship and submarine flotillas” completed a “complex and lengthy training drill in the Red Sea.”

“This extended training drill simulated various scenarios, including achieving maritime superiority and maintaining freedom of maneuvering in the area,” it quoted navy commander-in-chief David Saar Salama as saying.

The Iran nuclear deal has been hanging by a thread since 2018, when the United States under then US president Donald Trump withdrew from it unilaterally and imposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Iran, which denies seeking a nuclear weapon, has retaliated since 2019 by rolling back its nuclear commitments.

Talks on reviving the accord have stalled, and Iran warned on Wednesday of a response to any “unconstructive actions” taken by the UN atomic watchdog after the agency reported traces of nuclear material at undeclared sites in the Islamic republic.

Last week, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said it estimated Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium had grown to more than 18 times the limit laid down in the accord.

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