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|Yoni Hirsch||April 29th 2012|
HaYom and Agencies
|An F-22 formation|
Tehran and Washington are at odds over Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. and Israel say Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. The two countries have not ruled out military action against Iranian facilities.
In an interview with ABC News, USAF spokesman Lt. Col. John Dorrian said the aircraft were "not a threat to Iran." Dorrian said the deployments were meant to "strengthen military-to-military relationships, promote sovereign and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations, and enhance interoperability of forces, equipment and procedures."
Due to field security, Dorrian refused to disclose how many F-22s were deployed to the UAE or their objective, but did say that due to their advanced technology, the transfer of any number of the stealth aircraft is a significant move.
The move was the second time F-22s have been deployed to the UAE, with the first time being in 2009 for a military exercise in the country. Despite the fact that F-22 has not been used in combat, officials at Lockheed Martin, the company that manufactures the F-22, have said that the aircraft is suitable for complex missions against well-defended targets in countries such as Iran and North Korea.
At a Pentagon press conference in March, a U.S. air force commander said, "If we will need to penetrate an aerial corridor during a conflict to confront an air force that is trying to prevent our forces from advancing on the ground, the F-22 will be called upon to handle the mission." The move comes at a time when Iran and six Western powers are engaged in talks concerning Iran's nuclear program. After a first round of talks that took place in Istanbul on April 14, with both Iran and the P5+1 powers (Russia, China, the U.S., Britain and France, plus Germany) claiming they were constructive, a second round was set for May 23 in Baghdad.
Fearing that Iran is moving quickly toward nuclear capability, Israel has repeatedly hinted of an attack, but Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi dismissed talk of a possible Israeli attack on his country's nuclear facilities as empty threats. On a visit to Tunisia on April 23, Salehi said threats from Israel were "empty words, bluffing." Salehi also said he was "optimistic" about the next round of talks with the six world powers.
Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon said on April 22 that the debate in Israel over a possible attack on Iran centers on the point at which "Israel will feel a knife at its throat."
"We are facing the threat of extreme jihadist ideology that cannot be appeased through dialogue," he said.
Yoni Hirsch writes for HaYom from where this article is adapted.