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Ahmadinejad To Speak At UN, After Iran Unveils 2000-KM Range Drone


NEW YORK - As television images back home showed off Tehran's latest weaponry, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared for his final official discourse to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

Tensions are as high as ever over Iran's nuclear program and Ahmadinejad's threats against Israel, and yet the 56-year-old is seen as something of a lame-duck back in Tehran as he serves his final year as president. That, Reuters reports, could mean an even more aggressive speech.

"Now he's been sidelined at home he will really want to ham it up abroad," said Ali Ansari of Scotland's St Andrew's University, referring to the Wednesday morning address to the U.N.

Meanwhile, Iran countered doubts about its military hardware by showing images of a new, long-distance drone, the Shahed 129 dubbed with the Farsi and Arabic words for martyr which can travel 2000 kilometers, thus threatening Israel, among others.

According to the Tuesday night television commentary, Iran plans navy war games that are an open challenge to U.S. military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf. On Tuesday, it was also announced that Iran will be testing four anti-ship missiles.

A Revolutionary Guard commander said that the new drones will carry out surveillance but could also be equipped with “bombs or rockets,” according to German press service Dapd.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh warned on Sunday that if Iran feels threatened by an imminent Israeli attack, it could launch a “preventive attack” on Israel and on U.S. military bases in the region.

In New York on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama warned in a sharper tone than usual that the time for negotiation over Iran’s nuclear future was “not unlimited” and that the U.S. will “do what we must do” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Iranian nuclear sites

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Why Crimea Is Proving So Hard For Russia To Defend

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, claiming Monday that a missile Friday killed the head of Russia's Black Sea fleet at the headquarters in Sevastopol. And Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in smoke after a Ukrainian missile strike.​

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram on Monday.

Responding to reports of multiple missiles strikes this month on Crimea, Russian authorities say that all the missiles were intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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