The Israeli military is gearing up together with U.S. forces for a major missile defense exercise, the IDF announced Thursday.
The Associated Press reported that the “Austere Challenge 12” drill is designed to improve defense systems and cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli forces.
The Islamic Republic followed its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz with another earlier this week, when Iranian army chief Ayatollah Salehi warned USS carrier John C Stennis not to return to the Persian Gulf after having left the area through the Straits of Hormuz in a "pre-planned, routine operation."
The U.S. responded to the Iranian threat with a calm statement read by Pentagon spokesman George Little and which warned Iran, "The deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades."
Iran's Quds Force Expanding in Europe, S. America
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, responsible for operations overseas, is believed to be in the midst of expanding its activities and operations in Europe and South America, senior defense officials said this week.
The bolstering of the Quds Force’s presence in Europe is understood within Israel and the US as part of an Iranian effort to deter the Western world from taking stronger action against its continued development of a nuclear weapon.
“By establishing this infrastructure, the Iranians are making clear that their response to an attack against their nuclear facilities will be worldwide,” one official said.
The Quds Force is believed to already have extensive infrastructure in Africa and South America, which it uses to launder money needed to finance its terrorist activities.
Military Warning To Iran Over Strait Closure
The UK would respond militarily if Iran carries out its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the Defence Secretary has warned.
Philip Hammond used a speech in Washington DC to warn Iran that any attempt to close the key Gulf trade route would be "unsuccessful" and could be stopped in part by the Royal Navy.
"It is in all our interests that the arteries of global trade are kept free, open and running. Disruption to the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz would threaten regional and global economic growth."
Iran has threatened to block the 34-mile wide strait in retaliation for a planned EU trade embargo on Iranian oil.
It is understood that EU governments have reached agreement on a trade embargo, but are yet to say when it will be implemented.
Hezbollah Planning To Target Israelis In Europe
Recent terror alerts have prompted Jerusalem officials to ask Bulgaria and other European nations to increase security measures concerning Israeli and Jewish sites as well as known tourist hubs, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.
According to the report, the defense establishment is concerned by Iranian threats to retaliate over what it calls "the systematic elimination" if its nuclear scientists.
Concerns over a possible attack in Bulgaria are compounded by defense establishment intelligence – backed by Western intelligence sources – suggesting Hezbollah is planning a terror attack on "an Israeli destination in Europe," possibly around the coming anniversary of the assassination of arch-terrorist Imad Mugniyah.
Iran To Hold Another Naval Drill Near Strait Of Hormuz Next Month
Gunmen Kill 6 In Attack At Nigerian Church
Gunmen stormed a church in northern Nigeria Thursday and killed six people as they were praying, the pastor said, as an ultimatum from Islamists for Christians in the region to leave expired.
“It was around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT),” John Jauro told AFP of the attack in the city of Gombe.
“I was leading the congregation in prayers. Our eyes were closed when some gunmen stormed the church and opened fire on the congregation. Six people were killed in the attack and 10 others were wounded.”
Global Economy Could Endure Disaster For A Week
The global economy could withstand widespread disruption from a major natural disaster or attack by militants for only a week, a report by UK-based think-tank Chatham House said on Friday
The world's economy is currently fragile, leaving it particularly vulnerable to unforeseen shocks. Up to 30 percent of developed countries' gross domestic product could be directly threatened by crises, especially in the manufacturing and tourism sectors, it said.
6,757 Aftershocks Felt In Japan From March 11 until December 31
The Meteorological Agency said Thursday that 6,757 aftershocks were felt in Japan after the March 11 disaster through Dec 31.
Of those, there were 14 with a magnitude over 5, 30 with a magnitude of 5, 174 with a magnitude of 4, 707 (magnitude 3), 1,904 (magnitude 2) and 3,928 (magnitude 1), the agency said on its website.
For the whole year, the agency said there were 9,723 earthquakes and aftershocks, seven times the number in 2010.
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