US Pressure? Israel Postpones Massive Joint Drill
Israel announced Sunday it is postponing the largest-ever anti-missile military exercise with the United States for “technical” reasons days after President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to reiterate his “unshakeable” commitment to Israel’s security.
The White House did not elaborate, but the president reportedly told the Prime Minister to back off any plans for attacking Iran.
The sudden postponement of the “Austere Challenge” drill, ballyhooed by observers as a saber-rattling message to Iran, officially was attributed to budgetary and logistical problems. However, considering Israel’s anxiety over Iran’s progress towards manufacturing a nuclear weapon, it is difficult to believe that money is a problem.
The IDF did not define what “logistical” problems could delay the military drill until the summer, three months after it was slated to begin. Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently visited Washington and spoke with U.S. military officials to start the anti-missile exercise in April.
A delay of another three months will give the Obama administration additional time to try to prove its sanctions against Iran are working, hopefully precluding the need for a military strike to stop Iran’s nuclear development.
“Austere Challenge” is to involve thousands of American troops and simulate defenses against missile attacks. Iran recently said it tested a long-range missile that can reach Israel and U.S. bases in the region.