World Bulletin – September 15, 2008
Iran staged air defence exercises on Monday and said anyone attacking the Islamic Republic would regret it, Iranian news agencies reported.
The Fars and ISNA news agencies said the air force drill was being held in half of the Islamic Republic's 30 provinces but did not give details or say how long it would last.
Dozens of aircraft took part in the manoeuvres, in which an imaginary enemy would attack Iran's air defences, ISNA said.
Iran has said neither U.S. nor Israeli forces are in a position to strike but has vowed to strike back at Israel and U.S. interests and shipping if it is attacked.
Military analysts say Iran's real ability to respond could be with more unconventional tactics than a missile salvo, such as deploying small craft to hit oil tankers, or using allies in the area to respond US or Israeli attacks.
The commander of Iran's aerial defence, Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani, said the exercise was staged to increase military readiness, Fars said.
"(Mighani) emphasised that the enemies would receive a serious response for any aggression and we would surprise them and make them regretful," ISNA reported.
Iran is estimated to have 280 combat aircraft, including Russian-made MiG 29 aircraft, but serviceability may be 80 percent or lower, military analysts say.
An International Atomic Energy Agency report issued on Monday said Iran had raised the number of centrifuges enriching uranium to 3,820, compared with 3,300 in May, with over 2,000 more being installed.
But U.N. officials said Iran seemed a long way from refining enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb, if it so chose.
Speculation about a possible attack on Iran's nuclear sites has risen since Israel staged an air force exercise in June which was reported to be a simulation of a strike against Iran.
"Threats by the Zionist regime and America against our country are empty," Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted by Mehr News Agency on Sunday as saying.
"Military threats are a sign of psychological problems which are due to the enemies' weakness," the minister added.
Asked whether Iran had bought Russia's advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, Najjar said: "We will do anything that is necessary to strengthen our armed forces, defensive capabilities, at its proper time."
Iranian officials have given conflicting signals in the past about whether Iran was buying the Russian system. Moscow has in the past denied plans to sell the weapon to Tehran.
Last updated 18/09/2008