Iran's arsenal of missiles is unmatched in the Middle East, even bigger than Israel's, a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report says.
Over the past 40 years, Iran has developed "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 Pentagon study said.
Despite decades of sanctions imposed on it, Tehran's vast projectile force includes ballistic missiles that could strike Israel and Saudi Arabia at ranges of 2,000 kilometers.
Two years ago, Iran showcased a 2,000-kilometer-range missile that can carry multiple warheads and appeared to use technology from North Korea, the report said.
"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.
The study noted that Iran had remained "implacably opposed to the United States and its presence in the Middle East."
Overall, Tehran's military power buildup serves two important goals: "ensuring the survival of the regime and securing a dominant position in the region."
In an introduction to the study, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lieutenant General Robert Ashley said: "Iran sees itself as closer than ever to achieving its goals. Tehran has played the cards dealt it by the fall of Saddam [Hussein in Iraq], the uprising in Syria, the rise and retreat of ISIS, and the conflict in Yemen."
Iran would develop its defense capability faster if it were not for a UN-mandated arms embargo for most weapons that is set to expire in October 2020.
A U.S. intelligence official told the AFP news agency that Iran was expected to concentrate on procuring fighter jets and battle tanks, with Russia and China the most likely suppliers.
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