Iran ‘prepared for worst,’ Israel holds defense drill
BENGHAZI / TEL AVIV
Israeli soldiers from the army’s Home Front Command and rescue teams take part in defence drill simulating a missile attack at a school in Holon, near Tel Aviv, on November 03, 2011. AFP photoran’s foreign minister said yesterday that Tehran was “prepared for the worst” and warned the United States against putting itself on a “collision course” with his country.
On the sidelines of a news conference in the Libyan city of Benghazi, Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was asked about news reports of Washington accelerating plans for a strike on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
“The U.S. has unfortunately lost wisdom and prudence in dealing with international issues. It depends only on power,” Salehi said.Washington and other Western powers suspect Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies this charge, saying its nuclear program is for purely peaceful ends, to which it has a right. “They have lost rationality. We are prepared for the worst, but we hope they will think twice before they put themselves on a collision course with Iran,” Salehi added. Washington insisted Nov. 2 that it remains committed to a diplomatic solution of the nuclear standoff with Iran as talk mounted in Israel of a political push for a preemptive strike. The White House said yesterday a report due next week from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog will be an important point for the world to assess whether Iran is meeting its obligations.
NATO: No intention to intervene in Iran
Salehi was also questioned about NATO’s military strikes in support of fighters battling to overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi. “NATO did not come to help without any reason. They made mistakes. The president of Iran (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) has criticized these mistakes,” said Salehi.
Meanwhile, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday the alliance has no intention of intervening in Iran and backs a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute after reports of a debate in Israel over launching an attack. “Let me stress that NATO has no intention whatsoever to intervene in Iran and NATO is not engaged as an alliance in the Iran question,” Rasmussen said. “We support of course the international efforts to pursue political and diplomatic solutions to the Iran problem,” he said, urging Tehran to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding a halt in nuclear activities. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported Nov. 2 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking cabinet support for a military strike on Iran, after days of speculation about plans for an attack.
While tension starts to flare up, Israel staged a mass drill yesterday, simulating a missile attack in the center of the country at a time of intense speculation that Israel could launch strikes on Iran. The four-hour exercise began shortly after 10 a.m. local time with the sounding of sirens for a full minute and a half throughout the region around the coastal city of Tel Aviv. Rescue teams were being dispatched to “evacuate hundreds of wounded after conventional and non-conventional missile attacks” to hospitals participating in the simulation. The army said the exercise was “part of its routine training for emergencies” and was “not influenced by the current events,” in reference to the flurry of speculation that Israel was mulling a pre-emptive strike against Iran.
Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.