Iran Begins War Games to Protect Nuclear Sites

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Iran has reportedly begun large-scale air defense war games that simulate attacks against the Islamic republic's nuclear sites.

Iranian officials warn that the drills are a sign they will retaliate if there's any interference with their nuclear program, especially from Israel.

The five-day operational drill will take place over an area that's almost a third of the size of the country.

The commander of the Guard's air force, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said Israel's threats to stop the Iranian nuclear program was psychological warfare.

"We are sure they are not able to do anything against us since they cannot predict our reaction," Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the Guard's official Web site, Sephahnews.

"If their fighter planes could escape from Iran's air defense system, their bases will be hit by our devastating surface-to-surface missiles before they land," he said.

Iran's defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, said Iran planned to pursue designing and producing its own air defense missiles, according to the official IRNA news agency.

The U.S. and its European allies are pressuring Iran to end its nuclear activities, arguing that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Iran insists the program is only for peaceful purposes.

A senior Obama administration official urged Iran over the weekend to talk with the international community about their concerns.

"We would prefer that the Iranian regime follow through on their offer to engage," said Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

"It is more important for them to build confidence with the international community," she said at a news conference Sunday at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia.

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