U.S. Leaders Implicitly Served a Warning:
WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- Despite decades of sanctions, Iran has succeeded in developing its missile arsenal, which is larger than that of any other Middle Eastern country, a Pentagon study says.
"Iran has an extensive missile development program, and the size and sophistication of its missile force continues to grow despite decades of counterproliferation efforts aimed at curbing its advancement," the Defense Intelligence Agency said.
The study said Iran considered missiles to be a strategic necessity due to the limitations of its air force, which still has some U.S. planes ordered by the pro-Western shah, who was toppled in 1979.
"Lacking a modern air force, Iran has embraced ballistic missiles as a long-range strike capability to dissuade its adversaries in the region -- particularly the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia -- from attacking Iran," the report said.
Iran has "the largest missile force in the Middle East," the report said. A U.S. intelligence official said on condition of anonymity that the assessment included the occupying regime of Israel.
The report said that Iran had developed a series of missiles that could strike at a distance of 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) -- capable of reaching Occupied Palestine.
The report comes in the wake of recent riots in Iran which have been supported by U.S. leaders.
Iran in 2017 showcased the 1,250-mile-range Khoramshahr missile, which can carry multiple warheads.
But the Pentagon study said that Iran was spending slightly less on its military, with $20.7 billion budgeted in 2017.
Iran's economy has come under growing pressure since Trump last year withdrew from a nuclear accord and reimposed sweeping sanctions.
The Islamic Republic has faced UN-mandated sanctions on importing most weapons since 2006, but the embargo is set to expire five years after implementation of the nuclear deal.
The accord, which Iran reached in 2015 with former president Barack Obama's administration as well as Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, is on life support after Trump left it and as Tehran takes steps to end compliance as a protest over continued sanctions.
A U.S. intelligence official expected Iran to concentrate on procuring fighter jets and battle tanks, with Russia and China the most likely suppliers.
Iran argues that it must keep up its defenses, pointing to Western support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and the Zionist regime’s undeclared nuclear program.
The DIA report concludes that the Islamic Republic is also making rapid progress developing attack drones and other missile systems. The report comes amid escalating tensions between Iran and the West in the wake of a series of mysterious attacks on commercial shipping vehicles, including three Iranian oil tankers.
The DIA report says Iran has increased its use of drones, as surveillance assets to watch American troops and ships in the Persian Gulf and as weapons platforms to launch attacks. And the report says Tehran is improving its cyberspace capabilities, both to collect information and to launch cyberattacks.
"Although still technologically inferior to most of its competitors,” the report claimed, "the Iranian military has progressed substantially over the past few decades.”