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Report: Iran to hold 'large-scale military exercise' next month

Word of the planned drill followed foreign minister Manounchehr Mottaki issuing an ultimatum to the West.
Word of the planned drill followed foreign minister Manounchehr Mottaki issuing an ultimatum to the West.
  • State-funded media: Drill to improve "defensive capabilities" and "boost the region's security"
  • U.S. has said time running out for Iran to address concerns on its nuclear program
  • Iran's foreign minister Saturday issued an ultimatum to the West
  • Iran says has a right to produce nuclear fuel under 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran will hold a "large-scale military exercise" next month in order to prepare its forces to repel an offensive by the nation's enemies, government-funded Press TV reported, citing a top military official.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, commander of Iran's ground forces, told a meeting of servicemen in Tehran Saturday the joint drill will be conducted by ground forces and some units of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and aimed at improving "the force's defensive capabilities," Press TV said. The exercise will also "boost the region's security," he said.

"Both the United States and its close ally Israel have refused to rule out the possibility of a military attack" against Iran, Press TV reported. "Iran has not initiated a war with any country for more than a century."

The report did not provide specifics on when the military exercise would take place.

U.S. officials have said that time is running out for Iran to address international concerns regarding its nuclear program. And Israel has called Iran's nuclear program the major threat facing its nation.

Iran has said its uranium enrichment program is aimed at producing fuel for civilian power plants. But the United States and other countries have accused Tehran of working toward nuclear weapons.

Iran says it has a right to produce nuclear fuel under the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, which bars member states from pursuing nuclear weapons and requires international inspectors to have access to nuclear facilities.

On Saturday, Iran's foreign minister issued an ultimatum to the West: Either renegotiate the United Nations-backed deal on Iran's nuclear program, or the Islamic republic will enrich nuclear fuel on its own.

Foreign Minister Manounchehr Mottaki said the West has until the end of January to accept the counter-deal proposed by Iran, though he didn't give details on Iran's offer, according to state media.

Mottaki's comments came two days after Iran failed to meet a year-end deadline to accept a deal offered in October by the "P5 plus one" -- permanent United Nations Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany. The six nations offered Iran a deal to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for conversion into fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, had proposed that Iran send low-enriched uranium to Russia and then France for processing.