DOD: Massive US-Israeli missile drill not aimed at Iran

While some of the threat scenarios in the exercise, known as Austere Challenge, are designed to mimic those posed by Iran, Dempsey attempted to downplay the assumption the large-scale drill was being conducted with only Tehran in mind. 

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"First of all, this is an annual exercise. Secondly, it's an exercise not only for the kind of capabilities that Iran might deploy, but also for shorter range rockets and missiles," the four-star general told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon. 

The crux of the exercise is "to demonstrate our commitment to Israel for their collected defense against ballistic missile attack, rockets and missiles," regardless of where that threat may originate from, according to Dempsey, who plans to travel to Israel to observe the event. 

More than 1,000 American troops are heading to Israel to participate in the annual missile defense exercise, scheduled for later this month. 

The drill, which is designed to test U.S. and Israeli defenses against a wide array of missile threats is reportedly the single largest military exercise between the two nations. 

Washington and Jerusalem initially planned to hold the exercise last spring, but those plans were scrubbed due to escalating tensions with Iran over its nuclear enrichment program.  

That said, the White House and Pentagon remain committed to the administration's strategy of political and economic sanctions to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. 

"Everything we are doing with regards to Iran, the sanctions that we put in place, the diplomatic pressures that we bring on Iran, all of the efforts to try to pressure them to back off of their efforts to develop a nuclear capability, all of that is aimed at trying to get them to the negotiating table," Panetta said at the same Pentagon briefing.  

Multiple negotiations between Iran and members of the P5+1 group — the the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany — over the nuclear program have yielded little results. 

While DOD is firmly behind the White House regarding Iran, Panetta expressed frustration at the lack of results from those talks. 

"We want to be able to get them to a negotiating table. But not just to talk, but to get things done. And, unfortunately, we still have not gotten things done," Panetta said. 

"What we're looking for now is the kind of negotiations that are productive and that lead to real progress in terms of them backing off of their nuclear program," he added. 

Iran has repeatedly claimed the program is designed for purely peaceful purposes.The United States, Israel and other Western powers argue the program puts the country on the path to a nuclear weapon.