TEHRAN: Iran deployed warplanes and missiles on Monday in an “exercise” to protect nuclear sites threatened by possible Israeli attacks and warned it could cut oil exports to more EU nations unless sanctions were lifted.The EU said it could cope with any halt in Iranian supplies.
Tehran’s stance marked a hardening of its defiance in an international standoff over its nuclear programme — and suggested it was readying for any eventual confrontation.
The moves came the same day as officials from the UN nuclear watchdog agency arrived in Tehran for a second round of talks they said were focused on “the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme.” Iran, while holding out hope of reviving collapsed negotiations with world powers, has underlined it will not give up its nuclear ambitions, which it insists are purely peaceful.
Much of the West and Israel, though, fear Iran’s activities include research for atomic weapons. The United States and Europe have ramped up economic sanctions against Iran’s vital oil sector, while Israel has fuelled speculation it could be on the brink of carrying out air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Iran’s military said on Monday that it has launched four days of manoeuvres in the south aimed at boosting anti-air defences to protect nuclear sites.