In a report released by the Pentagon on June 29, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote that Iran's long- and short-range ballistic missile capabilities have improved recently, including weapons that target ships at sea, according to a report by Bloomberg News on Wednesday.
The Bloomberg article said the Pentagon report, which was commissioned by the U.S. Congress, mentioned Iran's deployment of new ships and submarines as well, and provides "the latest snapshot of Iran’s so-called asymmetric capabilities designed to counter the strengths of Western militaries."
Panetta reportedly signed the report which was quoted as saying “Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new submunition payloads" which have a greater and more lethal reach than that of solid warheads.
According to Bloomberg, the report was distributed to four congressional defense committees last week in accordance with a 2010 directive to provide annual classified and unclassified assessments of Iran’s military capabilities. The article said the unclassified reports are meant to update Congress on Iran's latest "asymmetric capabilities" being developed to counter Western military strength.
The article states that the Pentagon report echoes a U.S. assessment that Iran with “sufficient foreign assistance may be technically capable of flight-testing” an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015.
“There was a theme that Iran is improving the accuracy and lethality of its missiles,” Congressional Research Service Iran analyst Kenneth Katzman is quoted as saying. “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.”
Iran “would present a formidable force while defending Iranian territory,” the Pentagon wrote in the report, according to Bloomberg. “We assess with high confidence” that for 30 years Iran “has methodically cultivated a network of sponsored terrorist surrogates capable of targeting U.S. and Israeli interests. We suspect this activity continues.”
According to Bloomberg, the Obama administration replaced the position of former U.S. President George Bush to place missile defense sites in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic with a four-phase plan to move Aegis-class Navy missile defense vessels, ground radar and eventually land-based Navy Standard Missile-3 interceptors closer to Iran.
Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington is quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the Pentagon report apparently confirms that Iran deployed a new solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile and the capability of the Shahab-3 has been enhanced.
The report, as quoted by Bloomberg, says Iran 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. This technology also may be capable of striking land-based targets.”
The Pentagon reportedly highlighted three 2012 war exercises by Iran's Revolutionary Guard “meant to show offensive and defensive capabilities.” The maneuvers “were the first significant exercises” conducted by the Revolutionary Guard since 2008, the Pentagon was quoted as reporting.