The Guardian 18 May, 2005

Israeli air force to take part
in Canada war games

The Israeli air force is sending 10 F-16 fighter jets and about 150 air crew to participate in major war games in Alberta later this month. “It’s the first time the Israelis have joined the annual Maple Flag exercises over the sprawling Cold Lake weapons range. About 5000 air personnel from 11 countries and NATO are to take part”, John Ward reports in Macleans Magazine.

“We don’t support this Canadian initiative”, said Issam Alyamani of Palestine House, an educational and cultural centre in Toronto. “I think that Canada should be more sensitive to the Arab-Palestinian community in Canada.

“The Israeli air force was used to destroy Palestinian houses and it was used against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank”, said Issam Alyamani.

Canadian pilots will join fliers from Belgium, Germany, France, Israel, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the United States in the exercises, which stretch over three two-week periods through May and June.

A number of other countries, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, are sending observers.

“The exercise provides critically important air combat training for Canadians and our allied partners, says Col. Duff Sullivan, commander of 4 Wing Cold Lake.

The Cold Lake range spreads across more than 11,000 square kilometres of northern Alberta bush land, an area half the size of Israel. With civilian traffic banned from the area, military pilots have free rein to practise combat skills.

The range contains dozens of mock targets for planes to attack, including airfields, industrial complexes and military installations.

Ward says French Mirage F-1s and Mirage 2000Ns, American F-15 Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16 Falcons and B-1B Lancers, as well as Canadian CF-18s, and British and German Tornado GR4s are amongst the aircraft expected to take part.

At the same time Israel has sent a warning to Iran over the training of engineers from its Bushehr nuclear power plant by Russians.

The head of the Novovoronezh training centre (in the Voronezh region) of the state-run atomic energy concern Rosenergoatom told Itar-Tass that about 700 engineers from Iran have undergone training there.

“After theoretical studies in Novovoronezh, 20 Russian teachers will go to Iran to continue training Iranian engineers directly at the site of the future power plant”, Alexander Ivanchenko said.

Simultaneously, Iranian specialists will begin practical studies in Bushehr.

The Israeli chief of staff, General Moshe Yaalon, in a thinly veiled warning to Iran, said that “Israel has always found the means to respond to threats... I hope that pressure being put on Iran will be effective”.

Iran has consistently denied that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. It insists that it has the “right” to possess nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and has warned that the mounting pressure could undermine its commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said he doubted that currant talks between Iran and the European Union would stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

“I do not think the dialogue taken on by the European troika can halt Iran’s course towards atomic weapons”, Mofaz said.

What would stop the Iranians, he said, would be for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Tehran and implement “precise and detailed checks” of Iranian nuclear installations.

“It is a vital matter for Israel. This is a threat not only against our country but against the entire free world”, added Mofaz.

The threats against Iran, the claims that Iran is a threat to the “Entire free world”, Israel’s joint training with NATO, and now the suggestion of sanctions against Iran are all suggest that Israel is planning an attack on Iran.

It should not be forgotten that Israeli aircraft attacked and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear installation at Osirak, outside Baghdad, in 1981.

It is also consistent with statements by former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter that Israel and the US are planning an aerial attack on Iran.

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