Iran starts war games after being hit with sanctions over its nuclear program

Days after being hit with more tough sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, Iran has started new war games simulating an attack on foreign bases in the desert region.

The three day exercise, called Great Prophet 7, involves firing “tens of different missiles” at bases modeled after United States military installations in countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards military force told IRNA, AFP reports.

One ballistic missile in the test, the Shahab-3, has a range of 1,200 miles – enough to strike Israel or southern Europe.

Iran is staging the exercise following warnings that it would counter-attack US or Israeli targets if its nuclear facilities were hit.

Iran has long-claimed its nuclear program is for peaceful intentions and for energy, but Western powers have suspected it is intended for weapons development. Israel has hinted at an attack if diplomatic efforts and sanctions fail, the Associated Press reports.

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Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads Iran’s Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, said the country “will decisively respond to any trouble” brought forth by “adventurous nations,” AFP reports.

“If they (the Israelis) make a move, they will give us a pretext to obliterate them from the face of the Earth,” Hajizadeh also told IRNA.

The next round of talks aiming to resolve the nuclear dispute are scheduled to take place Tuesday in Istanbul, involving representatives from Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, AFP reports.

On Thursday, the US increased restrictions on foreign companies working with Iran’s central bank, while the European Union enacted an embargo Sunday on Iranian crude oil.

The embargo also prevented European Union companies from providing insurance to tankers carrying Iranian oil to other countries, the AFP reports.

The pair of moves have already cut Iran’s oil exports by 40 percent, according to data released by the International Energy Agency, but Iran disputes the claim.

Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee responded to the sanctions Monday by drafting a bill that urges Iran to stop all oil tankers – regardless of nation – from passing through the Strait of Hormuz if they are supplying crude to countries that support the sanctions, Reuters reports.

More than 17 million barrels of oil pass through the waterway each year.

Iran has periodically conducted war games to flaunt its firepower, most recently in the Strait of Hormuz. The Great Prophet 7 missile exercise echoes similar tests conducted in 2009.

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