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WASHINGTON — Iran has been developing advanced anti-ship missiles
with help from China, a report said.
The U.S. intelligence community has determined that the Iran Navy has
enhanced its missile arsenal over the last few years. In a report, the
community said Iran’s missiles, particularly its anti-ship weapons, were
increasing in range and accuracy.
The report, submitted by the Defense Department to Congress, was said to reflect a change in the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community. Until 2012, most of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies had dismissed Iran’s missile arsenal as inaccurate and ineffective against enemy military targets.“Short-range ballistic missiles provide Teheran with an effective mobile capability to strike partner forces in the region,” the report, titled “Annual Report on Military Power of Iran,” said. “Iran continues to improve the survivability of these systems against missile defenses.”
Signed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on June 29, the report said the Iran Navy was developing its anti-ship cruise missile capability. The capability was meant to allow the firing of missiles that could identify and loiter over targets before a strike.
“It is also 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 said. “This technology also may be
capable of striking land-based targets.”
China was said to have played a major role in enhancing Iran’s anti-ship
missile arsenal. The report cited similarities in Iranian and Chinese
Iran has also improved its medium- and intermediate-range ballistic
missiles. Some of these missiles, including the solid-fuel Ashura and the
liquid-fuel Shihab-3, were tested in major Iranian military exercises in
“Beyond steady growth in its missile and rocket inventories, Iran has
boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy
improvements and new submunition payloads,” the report said. “Iran’s missile
force consists chiefly of mobile missile launchers that are not tethered to
specific physical launch positions.”
The Pentagon determined that Israel marked the key target of Iran’s
missile program. Since 2008, Iran has been firing multi-stage space-launch
vehicles that could serve as a test bed for the development of
intercontinental ballistic missile technologies.
“Iran may be technically capable of flight testing an intercontinental
ballistic missile by 2015,” the report said.