Before Iran Talks, Israel Drills for Long-Range Air Operation

Oct. 11, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

Is­rael on Thursday re­leased foot­age of war­planes test­ing their abil­ity to fly long dis­tances — just days be­fore Ir­an plans to hold talks with oth­er na­tions over its con­tested nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies, which have promp­ted Is­raeli threats of at­tack.

The Is­raeli air force “plays a cent­ral role in car­ry­ing out Is­rael’s mil­it­ary op­tion if ne­ces­sary,” the Is­raeli De­fense Forces said in re­leased com­ments, which con­tain no spe­cif­ic ref­er­ence to Ir­an. Tehran is sched­uled next Tues­day and Wed­nes­day to meet with coun­ter­parts from six ma­jor gov­ern­ments over con­cerns that its ci­vil­ian atom­ic ef­forts in real­ity are dir­ec­ted to­ward de­vel­op­ing a nuc­le­ar-weapon cap­ab­il­ity.

“No deal is bet­ter than a bad deal,” Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu told the Fin­an­cial Times on Thursday, re­fer­ring to the Ir­a­ni­an ne­go­ti­ations that his na­tion will be mon­it­or­ing closely. “A bad deal would be a par­tial agree­ment which lifts sanc­tions off Ir­an and leaves them with the abil­ity to en­rich urani­um or to con­tin­ue work on their heavy-wa­ter plutoni­um, which is what is needed to pro­duce nuc­le­ar weapons.”

In Wash­ing­ton, mean­while, 15 House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee mem­bers on Thursday sent the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion a let­ter ur­ging it to re­in­state U.S. Treas­ury De­part­ment sanc­tions per­son­nel fur­loughed dur­ing the fed­er­al-gov­ern­ment shut­down.

“For max­im­um U.S. lever­age, the sanc­tions pres­sure must be kept on Ir­an es­pe­cially as [Pres­id­ent] Has­san Rouh­ani at­tempts to present Ir­an’s gov­ern­ment in a new light,” ac­cord­ing to com­ments re­leased by pan­el chair­man Brad Sher­man (D-Cal­if.), who co-au­thored the let­ter with rank­ing mem­ber Ted Poe (R-Texas).

In the in­ter­na­tion­al arena, the United States on Thursday pro­tested an Ir­a­ni­an bid for a lead­er­ship role on the U.N. Dis­arm­a­ment Com­mis­sion, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

Ir­an’s ap­point­ment sev­er­al days ago as “rap­por­teur” of the U.N. First Com­mit­tee — an­oth­er arms-con­trol body — promp­ted a crit­ic­al re­sponse from Is­rael.

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