Washington, July 12 — Iran has increased the precision and killing power of its ballistic missiles, a newly declassified Pentagon report states.
“Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new submunition payloads” that can extend the resulting carnage to a wider area,” the Pentagon stated in the report on Iran’s wartime capabilities delivered annually to Congress.
The international community has been trying to negotiate a halt to Iran’s enrichment of uranium, which the IAEA suspects is being used to build nuclear weapons. Iranian envoys and the P5+1, the six-nation negotiating group comprising Russia, China, France, the U.K., the United States plus Germany, failed to make progress on the issue in Moscow in late June during the third round of major negotiations since January.
The deputies of the two chief negotiators, EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, are scheduled to meet in Istanbul on July 24, Ashton’s spokesman said Monday.
The Pentagon report reiterated that Iran may be capable of testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015 if given “sufficient foreign assistance.” It also noted that the Islamic republic has considerable defensive capabilities.
Iran “would present a formidable force while defending Iranian territory,” according to the report. “We assess with high confidence” that over 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.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. military is reportedly deploying underwater drones to the Persian Gulf to de-mine areas in the event of a future conflict with Iran, which continues to plant explosives the area. The European Union embargo on Iranian oil that began July 1 has some worried that the country would respond by attacking oil tankers in the area. Iranian officials in the past have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times, which broke the story on the underwater de-mining efforts, that Iran could shut traffic in the Strait for five to 10 days and lead to a spike global oil prices.