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'Drill not canceled out of political concerns'
ByJPOST.COM STAFF,
January 18, 2012 04:58
US-Israel joint military exercise postponed solely due to technical issues, clarifies Israeli Ambassador to US Michael Oren.
Michael Oren

Michael Oren 311. (photo credit:JP)

Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren addressed a recent decision by Israel and the US to postpone a missile defense drill originally scheduled for April, saying that it "stemmed solely from technical issues," early Wednesday morning.

"Such postponements are routine and do not reflect political or strategic concerns," he said. "The United States and Israel remain committed to holding the exercise - code-named Austere Challenge 12 - the largest and most robust in their historic alliance."



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According to Oren, the drill will be held in the latter half of the year.

Oren's comments came amid speculation over which country had initiated postponing the exercise and why.

On Sunday, senior military officials announced the drill would be canceled. Officials refused to elaborate on the reasons behind talks to postpone or cancel the drill, but said they were mostly "technical and logistical."

Talks about postponing the drill took the Americans, as well as the Israeli Air Defense division, responsible for missile defense, by surprise. Just last Thursday, top IAF officers had said that the drill was scheduled for this spring.

The planned drill had caused tension in the region amid concern that Israel is planning an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities in the near future, and therefore is bolstering its defenses together with the US.
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