Iran will hold a large-scale military drill involving all its air defense systems next month, an Iranian commander was quoted as saying on Saturday, one of a number of military simulations it has carried out this year.
The air defense drill will include fighter jets and simulate emergency situations, said Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Iranian army's air defense force, according to Iran's English-language Press TV.
The drill will include both the army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Esmaili said, and follows a series of large-scale military simulations such as the "Great Prophet 7" missile exercises in July.
Israeli leaders' warnings that time is running out to halt Iran's controversial nuclear program have raised concern they may order an attack on Iranian nuclear sites, though Israel has come under growing international pressure not to act alone.
Israel and major Western powers suspect Iran is secretly trying to acquire the ability to produce nuclear bombs, but Tehran says its program is for purely peaceful purposes.
"Today our systems are prepared in a serious way for modern air threats, such that the performance of the systems compared to the previous profile has improved," Esmaili was quoted as saying on Friday by the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri.
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"The army air defense command's mission, with the development of the national defense mission and coordination between the armed forces, is to undertake appropriate operations against the threats of the enemies," he said, without mentioning any country by name.
Iran announced last month that it had tested a short-range missile with a new guidance system capable of striking land and sea targets.
Time Magazine reported on Friday that a massive US-Israeli military exercise that was scheduled for this fall might not be as grand as initially expected, with Washington deciding to significantly scale back on its participation in the drill.
According to the report, the US slashed the number of American troops who were slated to travel to Israel by more than 60%; instead of the approximately 5,000 troops originally assigned to "Austere Challenge 12," as the exercise is dubbed, the Pentagon will send only 1,500 servicemen and perhaps as few as 1,200.
Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement, bringing the two nations deeply at odds with the US closer together.
Iran’s state TV said the agreement was signed on Saturday in Tehran in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea’s No. 2, Kim Yong Nam. State TV did not provide further details on the document.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Kim that the Islamic Republic and North Korea have common enemies and that both should resist threats and pressures to reach their goals.
Both countries are bitter enemies of the US and the West. Iranian and North Korean officials have said in the past that their nations are in “one trench” in the fight against the Western powers.
Reuters, AP contributed to the report