CSIS: Iran’s Growing Missile Capabilities

Anthony Cordesman

The Center for Strategic and International Studies on Feb. 22 published “Iran and the Gulf Military Balance - II” by Anthony Cordesman and Alexander Wilner. The following is an excerpt from the report.
Iran continues to deny it is seeking nuclear weapons but it is much more forthright about its missile programs, and it has made missile test firings a major part of its televised military exercises:
  • "Our missiles have tactically offensive and strategically deterrent and defensive features… Our fingers are still kept on the trigger, but the number of these triggers has increased." – Brigadier General Hossein Salami, Lieutenant Commander of the IRGC, June 28, 2011.
  • "We feel to be threatened by no county but the US and the Zionist regime and the ranges of our missile have been designed based on the distances between us and the US bases in the region and the Zionist regime." – Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division, June 28, 2011.
  • “As the enemy’s threats will likely come from the sea, air, and by missiles, the Revolutionary Guard has been equipped to neutralize the enemy’s advanced technology.” – Mohammed Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC on a new anti-ship ballistic missile that Iran has allegedly developed, February 7, 2011.
  • “Iran is mass producing a smart ballistic missile for sea targets with a speed three times more than the speed of sound.” – Major General Mohammed Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, February 7, 2011.
  • "Those who are hostile to the Islamic Republic of Iran definitely have the right to be concerned about the drills, but we didn't hear any feeling of concern from the side of the regional countries since our moves and actions have always been in pursuit of defensive goals. We are entitled to the right to growingly strengthen ourselves to protect the Islamic Iran and we naturally increase our power on a daily basis until we acquire full (power of) deterrence." – General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division in reference to Iran’s most recent missile tests, July 9, 2011.
As these statements show, Iran views its ballistic missiles as a critical component of its national defense. In addition to an effective means for delivering a nuclear warhead, Iran’s military establishment firmly believes that an effective ballistic missile program provides the country with increased strategic and asymmetric capabilities.
Iranian officials regularly make references to their missile forces as an effective deterrent to attack, and the Iranian leadership is not shy about its country’s advancements concerning ballistic missile technology. High-ranking officials in Iran’s political and military establishments regularly boast of their country’s progress in this field…
Remarks made by such a high-ranking figure are revealing. They are a direct indication of the Iranian regime’s continued willingness to improve its ballistic missile arsenal as a component of its asymmetric warfare capabilities and the deterrent it generates against the US and regional US allies. Given Iran’s foreign policy objectives, conventional shortcomings, and ever-expanding missile program, it is clear that Iran sees its missile program as an effective tool to improve its strategic standing and assert itself in the region.
To read the full report, click here.