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US, Israel postpone massive military drill amid tension with Iran

Washington, Mon, 16 Jan 2012 ANI

Washington, Jan 16 (ANI): The United States and Israel have postponed a massive joint military exercise from May to later in the year amid escalating regional tensions with Iran.


Andrew Shapiro, US Assistant Secretary of State for Politics-Military Affairs, announced the drill, named "Austere Challenge," in November.


The exercise as originally planned would include over 5,000 US and Israeli forces and, among other things, simulate Israel's ballistic missile defense.


Shapiro said that it would be the "largest and most significant joint exercise in the allies' history."


The drill was announced shortly after American military officials reportedly expressed concern that Israel was preparing to attack Iran's nuclear facilities and would not warn them in advance.


Although Israeli and American officials are in close contact on defense matters, especially regarding Iran's disputed nuclear program, Jerusalem and Washington are at odds over how aggressively to approach with the issue, The Los Angeles Times reports.


Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon, said on Sunday that the international community must force Iran to "face the dilemma of choosing between its nuclear program or its regime as soon as possible."


He also said that tougher sanctions were necessary to isolate the regime.


"The military option must come last," said Yaalon, adding, "Israel must be prepared to defend itself." (ANI)


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