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Iran begins intensive air drill

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TEHEREN (BNS): Iran began its three-day series of Air Force and Missile Defence exercises through out the country on Monday, according to Air Force Commander, Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoting Brigadier Mighani saying the drills were being conducted in more than half of Iran's provinces. “The main goal is to rehearse tactical operations with modern weapons and to upgrade the operational effectiveness of the country's Armed Forces,” Brigadier Mighani said.

The news agency said all air-defence units of Iran's Ground Forces were involved, including the launches of advanced missiles and other precision guided weapons. The agency noted that to thwart any attacks from the US and its allies, Iran has conducted several high-profile war games during the year. Given Iran’s refusal to halt its nuclear programme, there is always a threat of a US and Israel attack.

Under a $700-million contract signed in 2005, Iran took the delivery of 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defence missile systems recently. It is said that Russia also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.

Amidst heated international condemnation, as part of the Great Prophet III military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, in July, Iran recently launched an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles), and several missiles with a range of 350 km (217 miles).

Presently Iran is under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying the demands to halt uranium enrichment, which Iran says it needs for electricity generation despite accusations that the programme is geared towards weapon production.

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