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Teheran Launches Military Exercises
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Iran's state-run television Sunday morning reported that the elite Revolutionary Guards would start three-day missile-test maneuvers from Sunday near Garmsar city located about 100 km southeast of Tehran in the desert.

"Zalzal and Fajr-5 missiles will be test fired in the war game," an unnamed commander of the guards was quoted by the television as saying, noting that both are considered short-range missiles.

"The maneuver is aimed at evaluating defensive and fighting capabilities of the missiles," the commander added.

The drills are the first such since the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1737 last December, calling on Tehran to suspend its enrichment activities and imposing sanctions on Iran's nuclear and missile program.

The war game came as the United States deployed a second aircraft carrier, the USS John C. Stennis to the Gulf Region.

The US military officials has said that this move was a warning for Iran not to intervene in Iraq's internal affairs, saying Tehran's leadership should realise that US military capability and resolve are not weak after a four-year long war in Iraq.

Some Western and Arabic media reports have disclosed that the US government had decided to attack Iran's nuclear sites before April and would deploy PAC-3 anti-aircraft missile systems in Arab countries. These rumors have been denied by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the White House, saying the US currently has no intention to attack Iran.

Echoing the maneuvers, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that imposing pressures and sanctions on the Islamic Republic would be fruitless, remaining defiant on the UN sanctions.

Ahmadinejad made the remarks when he submitted his government's annual budget bill for the New Year to the Majlis (Parliament). "Sanctions are viewed as an old fashion, rusty and inefficient weapon today...the resolution(1737) was delivered dead. Even ten more similar resolutions can not affect our economy and our policy," he asserted.

Referring to the US attacking rumor, the president termed it as a psychological war, saying "They say war is coming. What war? It is all propaganda."

Ahmadinejad has said Thursday that his country stands ready for any threat over its nuclear program, stressing "Iran is ready for anything on this path, we are intending to fulfill the nuclear project with the least expense".

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on the sidelines of accompanying President Ahmadinejad, said "Iran's nuclear rights are not negotiable and resolutions which deprive our country of its recognized rights lack credibility from our point of view".

Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Sunday also reiterated that Tehran had not changed its nuclear stance and was still pursuing the same goals.

"The official stance of the ruling system in the nuclear issue is the result of contemplation, discussion and a consensus gained at the country's Supreme National Security Council, thus, the country's nuclear stance is supported by all," he was quoted by the local Fars news agency as saying.

Stressing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed of all Iran's nuclear activities, the spokesman said "we do not accept suspension of the nuclear activities because such a demand lacks legality and rationality".

(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2007)

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