Monday, July 06, 2009

IAF to train overseas in coming months in face of Iranian threat

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 5, 2009, by Yaakov Katz and AP:

... the IAF plans to participate in aerial exercises in the US and Europe in the coming months with the aim of training its pilots for long-range flights.

Biden was asked on ABC's This Week whether the US would stand in the way militarily if the Israelis decided they needed to take out Iran's nuclear program.

The US "cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do," he said. "Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else," he said in an interview broadcast Sunday...

...Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government says it prefers to see Iran's nuclear program stopped through diplomacy, but has not ruled out a military strike.

Asked about Biden's comments, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US position on Iran and a military strike involved a "political decision. ...I'm one that thinks Iran should not have nuclear weapons. I think that is very destabilizing..." ....

IAF planes will take part this year in a joint aerial exercise with a NATO-member state that cannot be identified. In addition, later this month, the air force will send F-16C fighter jets to participate in the Red Flag exercise at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. At the same time, several of the IAF's C-130 Hercules transport aircraft will participate in the Rodeo 2009 competition at the McChord Air Force Base in Washington state.

Defense officials said the overseas exercises would be used to drill long-range maneuvers. Last summer, more than 100 IAF jets flew over Greece in what was viewed as a test-run for a potential strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Israel has a number of defense pacts with countries under which the air force is allowed to fly in foreign airspace. In May, the French newsweekly L'Express reported that the IAF had staged military exercises over Gibraltar, some 4,000 km. away from Israel.

In 2006, then-defense minister Shaul Mofaz signed a five-year cooperation agreement allowing IDF forces to deploy in Romania for joint training exercises. In 1996, Israel and Turkey signed a bilateral defense alliance allowing their air forces to fly in each other's airspace.

...On Sunday, the London Sunday Times reported that Saudi Arabia would allow IAF jets to fly over the kingdom during any strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

According to the report, Mossad chief Meir Dagan held talks with Saudi officials earlier this year on the topic and recently conveyed news of the green light to Netanyahu. The Prime Minister's Office issued an official denial on Sunday morning, saying the report was "completely false and baseless."

...Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who recently visited the Gulf, said it was "entirely logical" for the Israelis to use Saudi airspace. Bolton, who has talked recently to a number of Arab leaders, added: "None of them would say anything about it publicly, but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn't trumpet it as a big success."

Arab states would publicly condemn a raid when they spoke at the UN, but would be privately relieved to see the threat of an Iranian bomb removed, Bolton said.

While most experts are in agreement that there's a good chance Iran could have a usable nuclear bomb sometime during his presidency, President Barack Obama told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday, "I'm not reconciled with that."

A nuclear-armed Iran, Obama said, "probably would lead to an arms race in the volatile Mideast and that would be "a recipe for potential disaster."

He said opposing a nuclear weapons capacity for Iran was more than just "a US position" and that "the biggest concern is not simply that Iran can threaten us or our allies, like Israel or its neighbors."
Post a Comment