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Iran says military drills are acting as deterrent against Israel’s ’empty threats’

Spokesman for the Revolutionary Guard Corps claims Israel has subdued rhetoric since Tehran held major exercises

This photo released on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 by the Iranian Army, shows a missile being fired during a military drill at an undisclosed location in Iran. (Iranian Army via AP)
This photo released on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 by the Iranian Army, shows a missile being fired during a military drill at an undisclosed location in Iran. (Iranian Army via AP)

The spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Saturday that Iran’s recent show of force in military drills was acting as a deterrent for Israel’s “empty threats” against Tehran.

Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif claimed that Israel had subdued its rhetoric against Iran in the wake of military drills held by Tehran.

Most recently, Tehran held a five-day annual exercise last month which culminated in the firing of multiple ballistic missiles that generals said were a warning to Israel and included a mock strike on Israel’s nuclear facility.

“After the exercise, the Zionists’ prime minister officially ordered their military figures not to talk about Iran at all,” Sharif claimed in an interview with al-Alam news channel, cited by the Fars news agency.

Sharif said Iran assessed that Israel was interested in carrying out strikes against its nuclear program, but that the location of the sites would prevent it.

“Regardless of whether they act or not, our assessment is that [the threats] are rhetoric intended for political gains, especially to overcome their problems in their occupied lands, which makes them try to distract [the public] with an external issue,” Sharif said.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps spokesman Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif speaks, on January 3, 2020. (Screenshot)

Israel has reportedly approved a budget of some NIS 5 billion ($1.6 billion) to be used to prepare the military for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

It includes funds for various types of aircraft, intelligence-gathering drones and unique armaments needed for such an attack, which would have to target heavily fortified underground sites.

Sharif’s comments came a day after Iran displayed three ballistic missiles at an outdoor prayer esplanade in central Tehran.

The missiles — known as Dezful, Qiam and Zolfaghar — have official ranges of up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and are already-known models, the Revolutionary Guard said.

A report by Iranian state television said the missiles on display were the same types as those used to strike United States bases in Iraq.

A cleric walks past Zolfaghar (top), and Dezful missiles displayed by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, at Imam Khomeini grand mosque, in Tehran, Iran, on Friday, January 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The display came on the second anniversary of a ballistic missile attack on bases housing American troops in Iraq in retaliation for the US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020.

The missiles were also displayed as talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers flounder.

Diplomats from countries that remain in the 2015 nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — are working with Tehran to revive the accord, which had sought to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

American diplomats are present at the nuclear talks in Vienna, but they are not in direct talks with Iranians. The accord collapsed in 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran as Tehran began to publicly flout the terms of the agreement.

Posters of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani are seen in front of Qiam (background left), Zolfaghar (top right), and Dezful missiles displayed in a missile capabilities exhibition by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, at Imam Khomeini grand mosque, in Tehran, Iran, on January 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Israel has long maintained its opposition to US plans to return to the terms of the original deal and has said it will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said last month that Israel is “without a doubt not a party to the deal in Vienna if it will happen.”

In response to recent public comments by Israel Defense Forces officials that Israel was ready to strike Iran at any moment, Bennett said: “I’m in favor of speaking little and doing a lot.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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