Iran to test air defences at key nuclear site

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - ©2005 IranMania.com

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LONDON, March 6 (IranMania) - Iran is to test an air defence system around a key nuclear plant on Tuesday amid mounting international pressure over its atomic programme, the state news agency IRNA reported.

No reason was given for the decision to hold the exercise at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility in central Iran, which is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns to ward off enemy attacks.

"An exercise will be carried out for the aerial defence system installed around the Isfahan nuclear site today (Tuesday) from 10 am (0630 GMT) until 1 pm (0930 GMT)," Isfahan's governor general office said.

It also added that ambulances and other first aid services will carry out "rescue missions" as part of the exercise.

According to AFP, the exercise comes amid growing speculation that the United States has drawn up a plan to attack key Iranian nuclear sites like Isfahan if Tehran continues to refuse to freeze sensitive uranium enrichment activities.

Washington has said it wants to resolve the standoff through diplomacy although it has never ruled out the option of military action. US Vice President Dick Cheney said last month "all options" were still on the table.

The Isfahan plant produces uranium hexafluoride gas, known as UF6, which is then transferred to another facility in the nearby city of Natanz where it is passed through centrifuges to be made into enriched uranium.

The West fears that the sensitive process of uranium enrichment could be diverted to make nuclear weapons although Iran vehemently denies US charges that it wants an atomic bomb.

Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said in a newspaper interview on Tuesday that Iran's armed forces were ready to hit back against any attack.

"In order to ensure the highest degree of security, we will deal with any threat," he told the Iran governmental daily.

"Our defence capabilities should be devised in a way to realise our national aims and be ready to confront national security threats," he added

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