Photo Credit: Lt. Col. E. / IDF
F-35I 'Adir' fighter jets in formation

Israeli combat pilots plan to rehearse a possible strike in Iran during the ‘Chariots of Fire’ military drill that began on May 9.

The military exercise, being conducted with US forces, will simulate a widescale strike on Iran, the IDF announced Tuesday.

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The simulation is set to take place in Cyprus beginning May 29, during the fourth and final week of the military drill.

As stalled talks appear to signal a likely failure of the effort by the US and global leaders renew the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, Israel has been ramping up efforts to develop a plan to address the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in remarks delivered Tuesday at Reichman University that Iran is currently working to complete production and installation of 1,000 advanced IR6 uranium enrichment centrifuges, including at an underground site near Natanz.

“Iran continues to accumulate irreversible knowledge and experience in the development, research, production and operation of advanced centrifuges,” Gantz said.

“It stands just a few weeks away from accumulating fissile material that will be sufficient for a first bomb, holds 60 kg of enriched material at 60%, produces metallic uranium at the enrichment level of 20% and prevents the IAEA from accessing its facilities.

“Even today, Iran is making an effort to complete the production and installation of 1,000 advanced IR6 centrifuges at its nuclear facilities, including a new facility being built at an underground site near Natanz.”

The defense minister warned the price of stopping Iran is now lower than it will be in a year.

“Iranian proxies are attacking oil reserves, airports and civilian facilities. Iran itself is conducting attacks via its Quds Force,” he said, noting the Islamic Republic is developing operational systems throughout the region, equipped with accurate capabilities including cruise missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and UAVs, capable of reaching thousands of kilometers.

“The quantity of strategic weapons in the hands of Iranian proxies has increased significantly in the last year,” he warned.

Gantz also confirmed that two UAVs (drones) launched by Iran this past February, intercepted by the IDF, were headed to terrorist organizations in Judea and Samaria, or Gaza.

“In Syria, too, attempts continue to be made to transfer and produce accurate weapons,” Gantz said, adding that Israel “will continue to thwart these efforts and face any threat to its citizens and the region.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.