Iranian military forces start air defense exercise

EU leaders dismiss oil boycott threat

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21 פב' 2012 (כל היום)
Iranian military forces start air defense exercise

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran initiated a large-scale military exercise on Monday in a show of force designed to warn against a strike on the Islamic Republic’s renegade nuclear program. IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari told state TV station IRINN that the drills, along with a recent coastal defense exercise in the Persian Gulf, were designed to protect the entire region, presumably including Iran’s Arab neighbors who have spent the last several years begging Western countries to send military force to the region to protect them from Iran. The drills, dubbed "Sarollah," a word borrowed from the Arabic meaning "God's vengeance," started on the same day as a team of experts from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Teheran for talks aimed squarely at determining "the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," according to the delegation's leader, chief UN nuclear inspector Herman Nackaerts.

Also on Monday, Iran’s oil ministry threatened to cut exports to more EU countries after announcing a boycott of sales to Britain and France over the weekend. EU officials responded to the threat with a collective shrug, declaring that it would not cause too many problems since there are alternative sources of supply.

"In terms of immediate security of stocks, the EU is well stocked with oil and petroleum products to face a potential disruption of supplies," said a spokesman for EU policy chief Catherine Ashton.

"Undoubtedly, Iran is very imaginative with regards to provocation. It is not Iran that decided to cut off its deliveries, we are the ones who decided to terminate our orders," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters. "It makes one smile."

Nevertheless, the price of oil on world markets hit nine-month highs on the news, with Brent and New York contracts reaching $121.15 and $105.44 a barrel in early trading.

"The crisis they have provoked in the region has led to a hike in oil prices, and they are feeling the impact," Jafari said. "By deploying their military forces to the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, they are are trying to control the crisis. But the more they display and deploy their forces, the worse the effect becomes."

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) in Washington says that in 2010 four Asian states took around two-thirds of all the crude oil exported by the Islamic Republic, with China buying 20 percent, Japan 17 percent, India 16 percent and South Korea 9 percent.

As the war of words escalates, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak emerged from a two-hour meeting Monday with visiting US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon to tell members of his ‘Independence’ political party that Israel and the US are “two sovereign countries, each one responsible in the final analysis for the decisions it takes for itself and about its future.”

 

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