US, Israel mull military drills to simulate attack on Iran

RIYADH (Agencies): The US and Israel are considering holding joint military drills to simulate an attack on Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, US media reported on Tuesday.

The Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley are weighing holding an Air Force drill to train soldiers for a possible conflict with Iran and its allied proxies, Fox News Digital reported, saying this may happen in the coming weeks.

During the discussion with Milley, Kochavi said: “It was agreed that we are at a critical point in time that requires the acceleration of operational plans and cooperation against Iran and its terrorist proxies in the region.”

He said the Israeli Defense Forces promotes all operational plans against the Iranian threat. “Iran is under many economic, military, and internal pressures, and on the other hand, it continues to promote its nuclear program.”

At the Pentagon, the two military leaders discussed “regional security issues, opportunities for greater bilateral cooperation and coordination to defend against a wide range of threats posed by Iran across the region and other items of mutual strategic interest,” according to a readout of the meeting. “The US and Israel maintain a strong military-to-military relationship as key partners committed to peace and security in the Middle East region.”

On Tuesday, Iranian media reported that enrichment of uranium to 60 percent purity had begun at the underground Fordow nuclear site.

Iran is already enriching uranium up to 60 percent purity elsewhere, well below the roughly 90 percent needed for weapons-grade material but above the 20 percent it produced before the 2015 agreement with major powers to cap enrichment at 3.67 percent.

The US, under the Donald Trump administration, withdrew from the deal that was meant to limit development that could lead to Iran nukes in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump argued the sanctions relief had allowed Iran to increase its aggression in the Middle East, a position backed by US allies in the region.

The pact lets Iran use only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges but, as the deal unraveled in 2018, Tehran installed cascades of more efficient advanced centrifuges, such as the IR-2m, IR-4 and IR-6.

Meanwhile, US Navy investigators looking into an attack last week on an oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire concluded that an Iranian drone was used for the bombing.

The drone attack on the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Pacific Zircon last Tuesday off the coast of Oman appears to be part of the long-running shadow war between Israel and its archenemy Iran that has included the targeting of Israeli-linked ships in strategic Middle East waterways.