Tehran fuming over reported Israeli military exercises

Iran warned Israel of a 'strong blow' after US newspapers reported that Israel practiced military maneuvers in early June for a potential airstrike against Iranian nuclear facilities.


Tehran Friday warned its arch-enemy Israel of a "strong blow" if it takes forceful measures, after the US media reported military exercises by the Jewish state were a possible practice for a strike against Iran.

"If enemies especially Israelis and their supporters in the United States would want to use a language of force, they should rest assured that they will receive a strong blow in the mouth," senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said in his Friday prayers sermon.

Khatami, whose speech was broadcast live on state radio, stressed that the Iranian nation's mentality was "to fight foreigners."

"Given this mentality, if you make a hostile look at the Islamic Iran, you will witness such a united roar by our nation that it will definitely make you regret any vicious move forever," the conservative cleric added.

A Friday report by the New York Times cited US officials as saying that a major military exercise carried out by Israel earlier this month seemed to be a practice for any potential strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

A Pentagon official briefed on the exercise said a goal of the practice was to send a message that the Jewish state was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts failed to halt Tehran's production of bomb-grade uranium.

Last month the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's atomic watchdog, expressed "serious concern" that Iran is still hiding information about alleged studies into making nuclear warheads and defying UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

World powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- offered Tehran a new package of technological and economic incentives on Saturday in exchange for suspending uranium enrichment activities.

The West fears Iran could use uranium enrichment to make an atomic bomb although Tehran insists it wants only to generate nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Iran has given no signal that it would comply with the key demand.

"The nuclear issue has ended from our point of view," said Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday.

"Recently they have started a new game -- by testing us -- but this will result in no achievement for them except humiliation," he said without pointing to the offer.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who presented the new proposal to the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has called on Iran for a quick response.

Mottaki however said on Thursday that the offer was under consideration and the response will be given "at an appropriate time."

"Solana came with some of the EU representatives and brought the package. We have two points here," Khatami said in his Friday prayers sermon.

"We have been pro negotiation since the beginning, but a logical one that is after a solution.

"Not a type of negotiation that aims for mischievous actions," he said.

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