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Israel holds military exercise in run up to talks with Iran

| Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 9:48 p.m.

JERUSALEM — In an apparent message to Iran, the Israeli military said on Thursday it had carried out a “special long-range flight exercise” and posted rare footage of the drill online.

The military said its squadrons practiced refueling planes in midair this week and tested the air force's ability. The accompanying footage shows a tanker plane refueling a fighter jet midair, a key part of any long-range operation.

The release of the video comes just days before Western powers are to open new talks with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Israel has repeatedly warned that it would be willing to take military action if necessary to stop Iran from going nuclear.

The talks on Iran's nuclear program will be held next week with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France — plus Germany, collectively known as the P5+1.

President Obama disclosed last week that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran continues to be a year or more away from building a nuclear weapon, in contrast to Israel's assessment that Tehran is closer.

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