Exclusive: Uproar, military alerts, oil price surge over apparent Israeli air drill for Iran attack

debkafile‘s military sources report that an oil price surge of 5 percent to $135.92 was triggered by the report leaked by US government officials of an Israeli air force drill over Greece for an apparent strike against Iran, Friday, June 20. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered a war alert in the Revolutionary Guards and armed forces, with the Israeli and US Gulf forces following suit.
Tehran made no immediate comment, while Iranian leaders were reported puzzled by the Bush administration’s motives in leaking the report to the New York Times.
The most extreme reaction came from the UN nuclear watchdog’s director Mohamad ElBaradei, who threatened to resign if there was a military strike on Iran, warning such an attack would turn the region into a “fireball.”
“A military strike would be worse than anything possible,” he warned. “..it will mean that Iran, if it is not already making nuclear weapons, will launch a crash course to build them…”
Russian foreign minister Sergei Ivanov maintained that neither Israel nor the United States had produced proof that Iran was developing nuclear weapons and said the issue must be dealt with by diplomacy and talks with Tehran.
The American UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad agreed. While stating the view that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be “unacceptable,” he stressed:
“We’re in the phase of diplomacy; we want a diplomatic settlement of this issue.
The ball is frankly in Iran’s court.”
debkafile‘s political sources comment that if a reported air maneuver simulating an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities raised so much international, financial and military dust, how much more extreme would the world response be to a real attack.
The Greek Air force confirmed its participation in the Israeli military exercise held three weeks ago, but did not confirm the claim by Washington officials that it was a rehearsal for a potential attack on Iran. The Greek source stated no ground targets were involved as the drill was mainly aimed at personnel training. It was the first large-scale exercise between Israel and the air force of Greece, a member of NATO.
UP to 40 Israeli Air force F-15 and F-16 warplanes were based at the Greek Air Force Station at Souda on the southern Mediterranean island of Crete for the duration of the exercise, said the source.

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