Bloomberg - ,,Iran's Ballistic Missiles Improving, Pentagon Finds
- Attachment: Pentagon Report
Iran's Ballistic Missiles Improving, Pentagon Finds
By Tony Capaccio - Jul 11, 2012 12:00 AM GMT+0200
Iran’s military continues to improve the accuracy and killing power of
its long- and short-range ballistic missiles, including designing a
weapon to target vessels, according to a Pentagon report to Congress.
“Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by
improving accuracy and developing new submunition payloads” that extend
the destructive power over a wider area than a solid warhead, according
to the June 29 report signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The improvements are in tandem with regular ballistic- missile training
that “continues throughout the country” and the addition of “new ships
and submarines,” the report found.
The report obtained by Bloomberg News was provided to the four
congressional defense committees last week to comply with a fiscal 2010
directive to provide an annual classified and unclassified assessment of
Iran’s military power. The unclassified version provides the latest
snapshot of Iran’s so- called asymmetric capabilities designed to
counter the strengths of western militaries.
The report summarizes what’s been said publicly about the status of
Iran’s nuclear program and its aid to Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas,
and Iraqi Shiite groups. It repeats the long- standing U.S. assessment
that Iran with “sufficient foreign assistance may be technically capable
of flight-testing” an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015.
Two analysts who follow Iranian military developments said the report
provides new details and emphasis on the nation’s conventional ballistic
“There was a theme that Iran is improving the accuracy and lethality of
its missiles,” said Congressional Research Service Iran analyst Kenneth
Katzman. “U.S. government reports have previously always downplayed the
accuracy and effectiveness of Iran’s missile forces.”
“The report seemed pretty sober and respectful of Iran’s capabilities,
crediting Iran with improving survivability,” Katzman said.
The Pentagon report was delivered as a European Union embargo on buying
Iranian crude took effect on July 1, adding to a series of trade and
financial sanctions the U.S., EU andUnited Nations imposed on the
second-biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries in an effort to pressure the Persian Gulf nation over its
Iran “would present a formidable force while defending Iranian
territory,” the Pentagon said in the report. “We assess with high
confidence” that over 30 years Iran “has methodically cultivated a
network of sponsored terrorist surrogates capable of targeting U.S. and
Israeli interests,” it said. “We suspect this activity continues.”
Iran also continues to develop ballistic missiles with range to reach
regional adversaries,Israel and Eastern Europe, including an
extended-range Shahab-3 and a 2,000 kilometer (1,240 mile) medium-range
ballistic missile, said the report.
Citing the Iranian threat, the Obama administration shifted from the
Bush administration’s plans to place missile-defense sites in Poland and
radar in the Czech Republic to an approach that would in four phases
place closer to Iran some Aegis-class Navy missile defense vessels,
ground radar and eventually land- based Navy Standard Missile-3
Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), and Raytheon Co. (RTN) are among
beneficiaries of the envisioned systems.
The report appears to confirm Iran has actively deployed a new
solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile and that the Shahab-3
has improved accuracy and submunitions, saidAnthony Cordesman of the
Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The report also disclosed that Iran is seeking to improve its missile
counter-measures against U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council missile
defenses and poses a potential new threat to Gulf shipping, said
Cordesman, who this week is publishing CSIS updates to his reports on
Iran and the Gulf military balance.
Iran, like China, is “developing and claims to have deployed short-range
ballistic missiles with seekers that enable the missile to identify and
maneuver toward ships during flight,” the report found.
“This technology also may be capable of striking land- based targets,”
the Pentagon said.
Katzman said the language about Iran possessing a “formidable force
defending Iranian territory” seemed to be a “signal to advocates of
military action against Iran, suggesting any action on Iranian soil will
The Pentagon highlighted three early 2012 war exercises by the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps ground resistance forces “meant to show
offensive and defensive capabilities.”
The maneuvers “were the first significant exercises” conducted by this
branch of the Iranian military since 2008, the Pentagon said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at