Ahmadinejad flexes muscles to the world

Posted: May 5, 2010 by Jonathan Boyko in Hezbollah, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Syria, Terrorism
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Iranians preparing for war or just flexing muscle? Continuing recent series of military exercises, Velayat-89 military maneuver would last eight days, and – ironically – will convey “peace and friendship” to Iran’s neighbors:

State TV says the exercise, which started Wednesday in the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman, will last eight days and cover about 97,000 square miles (250,000 square kilometers) of Iranian territorial waters.

(Ynet)

IRANIAN ADMINISTRATION DID not explain how exactly large-scale military maneuvers, including air, land and sea forces conveys peace. On the contrary – the exercise would likely worry both United Arab Emirates – with which Iran verbally sparred just recently – and nearby Qatar, not to mention other states of the Persian Gulf.

According to military experts, the Iranians show some prowess and even seem to produce some sophisticated weapons. Just today, Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi declared his state develops a sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons system:

Vahidi boasted that the Mesbah can fire 4,000 shots a minute, is very precise and can be operated by a smaller crew than similar artillery systems. He claimed it was also effective in tracing and shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles – drones.

The Iranian Air force is also reported to have received 10 new "Toofan" (Storm) attack helicopters based on the Bell AH-1K Sea Cobra design. After studying photographs, Western military sources reported the Iranian version has been heavily upgraded compared with the original. It has a narrower airframe for greater flexibility and is armed with M197 3-barrelled 20-mm "Gatling-type" cannon in the A/A49E turret. Its wing-stub stations carry a pair of 19-tube 70-mm rocket launchers. The rear section has a Vulcan-type 20-mm automatic cannon, and two clusters of 38 anti-tank 70-mm missiles.

(DebkaFile)

Vahidi claimed the system would become operational “in the near future”. Analysts agree that acquisition or development of such weapon systems by Iran is a significant step forward, although it is unclear whether the system would cause real damage, as they were never proof-tested by war.

Israel does not see those as idle threats, however, and allegedly seeks cooperation with the NATO. While no real steps are yet taken to solidify such an agreement, the ground work is being laid, according to officials:

Citing a perceived threat from Iran, NATO has called on its 28 members to agree at a November summit in Lisbon to develop jointly a missile defense system to protect Europe.
While not a member of NATO, Israel has boosted cooperation with the alliance as part of its preparations for a possible show-down with the Iranians.

(Ynet)

“Groundwork” is a far shot from actual cooperation, though, as Israel seeks to expand its international ties through its military expertise. Undoubtedly, the Europeans would have much to learn from the Israelis; moreover, in the [far] future, such cooperation might actually bring Israel closer to some European countries, extending its economic networking and gaining new friends besides the United States.

Israel, however, is itself interested in cooperation in the field, as its northern neighbors keep rearming themselves. In most recent affair, Syria allegedly transferred M-600 missiles to its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah – a missile similar to Fateh-110, with built-in GPS guidance and a warhead of up to 500kg (1,100 pounds). With a range of up to 300km (186 miles) the Syrian rocket could pose a serious threat in case of another war:

If fired from southern Lebanon it would be capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

Latest claims of arms transfers to Lebanon follow recent accusations by President Shimon Peres that Syria Hezbollah gave long-range Scud missiles, capable of inflicting heavy damage on Israel’s cities.

(Haaretz)

As Ahmadinejad propels his proxies towards conflict with Israel, he also attempts to play the peaceful side, mocking threat of sanctions, while keeping a low profile on works to reach an agreement on its nuclear program:

"Sanctions cannot stop the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation is able to withstand the pressure of the United States and its allies," Ahmadinejad told a news conference.

"While we do not welcome sanctions, we do not fear them either," he said. "We feel that the US government will be damaged more than us by those sanctions.

(Ynet)

"In a telephone conversation with his Venezuelan counterpart, Ahmadinejad agreed in principle to Brazil’s mediation over the nuclear fuel deal," Fars said, quoting a statement issued by Ahmadinejad’s office.

The pact conceived in talks conducted by the UN nuclear watchdog last October required Iran to ship 1,200 kg (2,646 lb) of its LEU, enough for one atom bomb if enriched to high grade, to Russia and France for conversion into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which makes isotopes for cancer treatment.

(Ynet)

With fiery speeches for the past several years, Ahmadinejad cannot simply give up its position up high in the tree without enraging his people. Yet, he understand that a climax could be reached, and if strict sanctions are indeed imposed on his country, his assassination might turn from dream to reality.

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