Iran on Monday launched a series of war drills that included the use of American-made planes amid accusations by top officials that the United States is violating last summer’s comprehensive nuclear agreement, according to regional experts and Persian-language media reports.
Iran’s Artesh Air Force kicked off a three-day series of drills aimed at displaying the Islamic Republic’s air might, according to Iranian military officials who told the country’s state-run press that the drills are in preparations for upcoming war.
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"The goal of holding this drill is the creation of readiness so as to be able to combat any threat, and should a war occur, the Air Force will be the first force to enter the battlefield," Iranian Air Force Gen. Masoud Rouzkhosh was quoted as saying, according to independent translations of the original Farsi provided to the Washington Free Beacon. "The newest armaments of the Air Force like precision-guided bombs and laser-guided missiles will be used in this year’s drill."
Iran is using many American-made jets in the drills, including F-4 and F-5 warplanes, as well as large Boeing airliners, which are aiding in mid-air refueling tactics, experts told the Free Beacon. Iran also is using Russian-made warplanes.
The three-day air drills, now entering their second day, come as senior Iranian officials repeatedly accuse the United States of violating its side of the nuclear agreement.
Iranian officials maintain that they will continue to fund global terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which are committed to Israel’s destruction, despite objections from the United States.
"When they ask the foreign minister of America why do you violate your commitments under the JCPOA, they say we have acted on our commitments and even gone further than they require. However, Iranians must do certain things, such as ceasing their support for terrorists and halting their missile activities," Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s Judiciary, was quoted as saying in Farsi-language reports on Monday.
"However, what they mean by terrorists are resistance groups like Hezbollah of Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, which have stood against the violations and crimes of the Zionist regime," Larijani said.
Iranian officials have reportedly pressed their counterparts in the United States to explain why America is not, as they claim, upholding its end of the nuclear deal.
Iran’s outrage over the issue comes just months after the Obama administration made a secret cash payment to Iran of $1.7 billion as part of what lawmakers described as a ransom payment to free American hostages.
The Obama administration also has moved forward with new sanctions relief that is expected to provide Iran with even more financial resources, a large portion of which are suspected by Congress of being allocated to the country’s military and terrorist organizations.
Top Iranian military commanders say the armed forces remain committed to removing the American presence from the region.
"The bloody wars of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the continued occupation of Zionists in Palestine, the war of the Ba’ath regime of Saddam against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the conflicts in Lebanon, Bahrain, and other events and incidents where each one [has featured] thousands of dead and maimed and brought about endless destruction, are only part of the behavior of the satanic governing body of America in the region," Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, deputy commander of Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff, was quoted as saying on Monday, when the war drills commenced.
"The presence of America in the region is a cancerous malign tumor that can only be treated by removing the filthy tumor and the ejection of America from the region," Jazayeri added. "In Iran, nobody will permit America to tie its failure to live up to its commitments to defense issues and the interests of the resistance"
Regional experts told the Free Beacon that Iran’s rhetoric is part of an effort to squeeze more concessions from the Obama administration as it seeks to preserve the deal in the final months of its term.
"These comments are part of a calculated gamble to gain additional sanctions relief without any meaningful changes in Iranian behavior," Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon. "By constantly referring to perceived failures in American compliance with the accord, Iran is able to threaten the durability of the deal, thereby demonstrating it has exit options."
"For months now, Iranian officials have provided a steady stream of criticism against the West for allegedly failing to live up to its own promises pursuant to the accord that would grant Tehran meaningful sanctions relief," Taleblu said.
Iran’s efforts have appeared to pay off, as the administration has moved forward with several new plans to boost Iran’s access to the global financial system.
"Just recently, Secretary Kerry attested to the U.S. going above and beyond the terms of the accord," Taleblu explained. "This was noted by officials in Tehran like Ayatollah Larijani as not being enough. This is a tried and true tactic by Tehran. During the negotiations with the P5+1 that led to the JCPOA, Iran was able to force concessions by upping the ante. This was most notably seen with the centrifuge cap. Now, in the deal implementation era, Iran is upping the ante in an attempt to garner additional relief."