by Raphael Ahren
The Times of Israel
While the world focuses on Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic Republic is also continuously improving and expanding its regular armed forces, including its arsenal of missiles that could strike Israel and other Western targets. According to a new Pentagon report, Tehran will be able to test intercontinental ballistic missiles within three years.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times of Israel, also calls Iran an “active sponsor of terrorism” that continues to support groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah — which receives from Iran “increasingly sophisticated” arms.
Israeli leaders repeatedly call Iran the world’s greatest exporter of terrorism, blaming it for several attacks on Israeli and other Western targets.
“Iran’s conventional military capabilities continue to improve,” according to the Pentagon’s “Annual Report on Military Power of Iran.” “Beyond steady growth in its missile and rocket inventories, Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy improvements and new submunitions payloads,” the report states. “Iran may be technically capable of flight-testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015.”
The Islamic Republic has for decades worked on improving its short-range missile arsenal. The regime “continues to improve the survivability of these systems against missile defenses,” the unclassified report says. “Iran has also developed medium-ranged ballistic missiles to target Israel and continues to increase the range, lethality and accuracy of these systems.”
Earlier this month, Iran tested ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel, in what military officials said was meant to be warning to the West not to launch any attacks on the country’s nuclear program.
Tehran’s unconventional means of warfare are also expanding, the report states, asserting that the regime continues to advance its nuclear program, which could “be applied to the production of a nuclear weapons if the decision is made to do so.”
The report also confirmed the assertion repeatedly made by Israeli leaders that Iran funds and arms Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups. Iran indeed considers Hezbollah a “key tool in its efforts to pressure Israel,” according to the report.
In cooperation with Syria, Iran has provided Hezbollah with “increasingly sophisticated weapons, including a wide array of missiles and rockets that allow Hizbollah to launch weapons from deeper in Lebanon or to strike Israel,” the report states. “We judge that the Iranian military trains Hizballah and Palestinian extremist groups at camps throughout the region.”
Through its Revolutionary Guards, Iran also provides “material support to the Taliban and Shiite groups in Iraq, the report states.
Together with its terrorist proxies and its missile systems, Iran could present a “formidable force” to defend its territory if attacked, according to the report.