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As Iran races toward nuclear capability, US joins Israeli military drill simulating attack on Iran

The joint operation – Israel's largest military drill in its history – sends a message to Tehran

Illustrative - Israeli F-15 (Photo: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

In an unprecedented move, the United States will be taking part in a large-scale Israeli military drill simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities later this month, according to Israel’s Channel 13. 

The U.S. Air Force will be participating in the “Iran aerial exercise” as part of the fourth week of Chariots of Fire, Israel’s largest military drill ever, simulating a wide-ranging regional conflict. 

While the U.S. will only be refueling planes, its participation sends a message to Iran, according to Or Heller, a reporter for Israel's Channel 13. This comes as negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), continue to stall.

Israel’s last military drill simulating an attack on Iran was around 10 years ago, but at that time the U.S. did not participate. 

“Iran continues to accumulate irreversible knowledge and experience in the development, research, production, and operation of advanced centrifuges,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said at a conference at Herzliya’s Reichman University on Tuesday. “It stands just a few weeks away from accumulating fissile material that will be sufficient for a first bomb, holds 60 kilograms of enriched material at 60%, produces metallic uranium at the enrichment level of 20%, and prevents the IAEA from accessing its facilities. During these very days, Iran is making an effort to complete the production and installation of 1,000 advanced IR6 centrifuges at its nuclear facilities, including a new facility being built at an underground site near Natanz.”

Gantz also made it clear that the longer Israel waits, the higher the price will be.

“The price for tackling the Iranian challenge on a global or regional level is higher than it was a year ago and lower than it will be in a year,” Gantz said.

Gantz traveled to Washington on Tuesday where he will meet with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Gantz last met with Austin at the Pentagon in December.

“I will discuss bolstering joint security cooperation and dealing with regional challenges, chief among them Iran, which all moderate actors in the region must unite against,” Gantz said. “We will also discuss Ukraine and other matters important to world, regional and Israeli security.” 

After security talks in Washington, Gantz will fly to Miami and later to New York, where he will march in the city’s annual Parade to Honor Israel. The parade was canceled for the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

As Gantz was leaving for the United States, U.S. Central Command Chief General Michael Kurilla arrived in Israel Tuesday to observe the unprecedented joint drill. The U.S. Air Force will practice refueling Israeli Air Force jets in mid-air in preparation for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  

“Israeli officials said that the Israeli military is preparing several plans for possible strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities but admitted that without the U.S. developing similar plans they will be less credible and will do less to deter Iran,” according to Axios.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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