US And Israel To Hold Joint Drills Mimicking Strike On Iran 

JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The U.S. and Israeli air forces will hold a series of joint drills simulating a strike on Iran, set to begin on Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement.

Fighter jets and refueling aircraft will play out “a number of scenarios in the face of regional threats” over Israel and the Mediterranean sea, the IDF said, including strikes on Iran and its regional proxy militias, according to The Times of Israel. The plans come after IDF chief Avi Kohavi visited Washington on Nov. 21 to pressure the White House and Pentagon for reinforced planning for combined offensives against Iran, whose nuclear program has accelerated in the midst of failed negotiations on a deal the Biden administration hoped would curb Iranian proliferation.

“In order to improve our capabilities toward the challenges in the region, joint activity with CENTCOM will be significantly expanded in the near future,” Kohavi said in a statement Thursday, referring to U.S. Central Command, the Army command with responsibility for operations in the Middle East. “At the same time, the IDF will continue to act at an accelerated rate against the entrenchment of the Iranian regime in the region.” (RELATED: ‘Different Tracks’: US Strikes Iran Proxies While Nuclear Deal Remains Unsigned)

Kohavi and U.S. officials agreed to the drills during last week’s series of meetings, where the IDF chief met with National Security Council, CIA, Pentagon and State Department leaders.

“The US Air Force is conducting fighter escort and refueling exercises over Israeli airspace as part of a partner nation integration event. Exercises like these are routine and we regularly conduct them with coalition and partner nation air forces across the region,” Lt. Col Michael Hertzog, a spokesperson for U.S. Air Forces Central Command,  said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Israel had vigorously opposed the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the 2018 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, a multinational deal that traded restrictions on Iran’s nuclear proliferation for sanctions relief, TOI reported. However, the White House claims Iran’s refusal to moderate its demands for the deal have brought negotiations to a standstill.

Focus has shifted to the months-long wave of protests inside Iran, according to TOI. The alleged death of a 22 year old woman at the hands of morality police for violating dress codes prompted thousands to rise up in protest of the regime’s human rights violations, facing arrest and death as the Iranian security forces crack down.

However, Iran’s nuclear program continues to accelerate and present a threat to Israel, officials allege, according to TOI. Jerusalem has pushed the U.S. to develop a military contingency in the event Iran nuclearizes.

International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi said on Nov. 22 that Iran has begun enriching uranium at the Fordow facility to 60% and installed more advanced nuclear equipment, bringing it closer to having the ability to produce a nuclear weapon, CNN reported.

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