The United States and Israel will conduct their largest-ever joint missile defense exercise this month, making a display of solidarity as the international rift over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program grows.

This months’s three week exercise will simulate long and short-range missile attacks on Israel, and is meant not just to prepare Israel for possible warfare, but to show Iran and its allies that the US and Israel are prepared to work together against Iran.

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The drill, which will include over 3,500 US personnel, has been in the planning stages for 2 years and will cost $60 million.

Patriot missile batteries, an AEGIS ballistic missile defense ship, and an Israeli multi-tiered missile defense system will be employed, though all but one of the missile launches will be simulations.

Iran has said it will retaliate against Israel and the US if attacked.  The US has said it does not support an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear installations.  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has urged the United States to set “red lines” of Iranian nuclear activity beyond which the US would support a military strike.  The US has refused.

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