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Israel to simulate mass military strikes on Iran nuclear sites

Israeli helicopters (Israel Defense Forces/WikiCommons)
May 18, 2022

Israel’s air forces are planning to conduct a war game where they will simulate a massive aerial attack targeting Iranian nuclear facilities this month. The war game comes as Iran is reportedly poised for a nuclear breakout, with the ability to enrich nuclear material to a weapons-grade level.

The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday that the simulated attack on Iran will be a part of Israel’s “Chariots of Fire” war drills, which are running through the month of May. The Israeli publication reported the simulated attack on Iran will take place on May 29 and will be part of a series of aerial combat drills.

The simulated attack on Iran will reportedly take place over the Mediterranean Sea and prepare Israel’s air forces to target Iran’s nuclear sites.

The Jerusalem Post reported the “Chariots of Fire” drills are the largest in Israel’s history. The Times of Israel reported nearly all Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) units are participating in the drills, which are focused mainly on fighting along Israel’s northern borders, including against the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

The planned simulation comes as Iran has continued to enrich uranium and move closer to weapons-grade nuclear materials. President Joe Biden’s administration has been in talks with the Iranian government about getting it to return to compliance with a 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and Iran has stockpiled and enriched uranium well beyond the limits laid out in the deal.

The Biden administration’s efforts to restart the 2015 nuclear agreement have reportedly stalled amid disagreements over Iranian demands for the U.S. to drop its terrorism designation against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). With talks faltering, Iran may continue to draw closer to a nuclear weapon. In April, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Iran’s “breakout time” for developing nukes has dropped from one year “down to a matter of weeks.”

Israeli leaders have warned against a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Even before the Biden administration revised the estimated timeline for Iran’s nuclear “breakout,” Israel had been making new preparations to strike a nuclear-armed Iran. The Times of Israel reported that early last year, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered the Israeli military to prepare updated plans for a potential strike on Iranian nuclear targets. In September, Kohavi said the army had “greatly accelerated” preparations to counter Iran’s nuclear program.

The “Chariots of Fire” drills have been in the works for some time. They were originally scheduled to begin in May of last year, but the IDF suspended the war games as fighting broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.