By Igor Ogorodnev
Iran is set to begin a massive training exercise to protect its “nuclear centers” from potential air strikes. The four-day drill will unite missile defense systems, radars and interceptor planes in southern Iran.
“These exercises aim to reinforce the integrated abilities of the country’s anti-air defenses,” said a statement from the Katem-ol-Anbia military air base – the nerve center of Iran’s missile defense operations.
The exercises aim to improve cooperation between Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard and its regular army, and will cover a total area of 190,000 square kilometers.
The news comes on the heels of mounting speculation that Israel may attempt to derail Iran’s nuclear program by attacking its nuclear processing facilities. Israel has repeatedly claimed that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, which Tehran has consistently denied.
The Iranian operation has been codenamed “Sarollah,” which translates as God’s Vengeance.
But even without divine intervention on behalf of Iran, Israel faces a daunting task in taking out Iran’s nuclear sites.
US Defense experts believe that up to a hundred planes may be needed to execute the strike on at least four major targets.
“All the pundits who talk about ‘Oh, yeah, bomb Iran,’ it ain’t going to be that easy,” Lt. General David A. Deptula told The New York Times. Deptula retired last year as the Air Force’s top intelligence official and was the architect of the US air campaigns in 2001 in Afghanistan and in the 1991 Gulf War.
It is not clear if Israel possesses the necessary air capability or the sufficiently advanced bunker-buster bombs to penetrate the 10-meter concrete shells that encase Iranian nuclear facilities.
Despite the escalating rhetoric and demonstrations of strength in the region, international powers have called for a diplomatic solution. Iran has said it is ready to resume high-level talks on the issue, and inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are currently in Tehran to inspect the country’s nuclear program.