Iran’s military has "boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing" ballistic missile systems with "accuracy improvements and new sub-munition payloads," according to a Pentagon report. Portions of the document were declassified on Wednesday after having been presented to Congress last week.The Pentagon report, obtained by Bloomberg, specifically notes that Iran's short-range ballistic missiles are evolving toward an operational ability to target sea vessels.Iran's military improvements are occurring in parallel with regular ballistic-missile training that “continues throughout the country” and the addition of “new
shipsand submarines,” the report concluded.
NATO, which proclaims non-involvement in the Syrian conflict, and Russia, which vows to block foreign military action against the Assad regime, are both moving large naval forces into the eastern Mediterranean opposite Syrian shores.A flotilla of at least 11 Russian warships has been detached from Caspian Sea, Black Sea and North Sea fleet bases and is on its way to the Syrian coast for a maneuver; NATO has consigned its rapid response Maritime Group 2 to the same stretch of sea - where also five Israeli warships are deployed. The Western alliance has also increased surveillance flights over the Mediterranean from the Geilenkirchen air base in Germany.While these coordinated maneuvers are being presented as designed to fend off foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict, our sources report that they are in fact preparing for a potential US attack on Iran’s nuclear program, which is now expected in Gulf and European military quarters to take place in October, three months hence.High-ranking Saudi princes associated with their national military and intelligence agencies frankly confided to Arab and Western officials on recent visits to Riyadh that the US and, possibly Israel too, are on the verge of war on Iran. “It is already decided,” they say. The only question still open is the date, which could be before or after the US presidential election on November 6.In line with this prediction, France is reported in Paris to be massing a large naval force in the United Arab Emirates. The French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle-R91 is expected to dock soon at the French naval base in Port Zayid on Abu Dhabi’s northeastern coast opposite the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The French are also boosting their air units at Al Dhafra Air Base, stationing them alongside a large American air force presence.
Russia said on Tuesday that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria. It would be the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago. Nearly half of the ships were capable of carrying hundreds of marines.The announcement appeared intended to punctuate Russia’s effort to position itself as an increasingly decisive broker in resolving the antigovernment uprising in Syria, Russia’s last ally in the Middle East and home to Tartus, its only foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union.
Russia dispatched a destroyer-class warship to Syria on Tuesday, a source in the Russian Navy told Reuters, and another military source was quoted as saying four more Russian ships were en route to the violence-torn country.
The destroyer Smetlivy, which patrolled the waters off the coast of Syria in April and May, was seen leaving the Black Sea port of Sevastopol on Tuesday morning.
"Smetlivy is leaving for Syria today... The vessel is expected to reach the Turkish straits tomorrow morning," the navy source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A Russian Black Sea Fleet spokesman said the ship had been dispatched, but declined to confirm its destination. "The vessel has gone to sea, I cannot tell you anything else," spokesman Vyacheslav Trukhachyov said.Russia, which has blocked Western-led attempts to have the UN Security Council impose harsh sanctions on Assad's government, has been a major arms supplier to Damascus.
Iran’s military continues to improve the accuracy and killing power of its long- and short-range ballistic missiles, including designing a weapon to target vessels, according to a Pentagon report to Congress. The report was obtained and published byBloomberg News on Tuesday.“Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new submunition payloads” that extend the destructive power over a wider area than a solid warhead, the June 29 report signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says.
Iran is copy-catting the deadly Russian Kornet anti-tank missile that Hizbullah used against Israeli soldiers in the Second Lebanon War and which Hamas used to kill a student on a school bus last year.Quoting defense sources in London and Moscow, the Gulf News website quoted a Russian defense advisor as saying that Iran may have obtained the design for the Kornet missile from Hizbullah.
An analyst from Jane’s Defense suggested that Hamas and/ or Syria may have been the source for handing over the design to Iran, which does not have a license from Russia to produce the missile.IDF intelligence failed to obtain advanced information that Hizbullah possessed the Kornet missile, and Israeli tanks were unprepared for missile attacks that killed dozens of soldiers and wounded hundreds more in the 34-day-old war.
Over two years ago, Israel discovered that Hamas also has possession of the missile. In December 2010, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi announced, "On December 6, a Kornet anti-tank missile fired for the first time in Gaza hit an IDF tank and penetrated its outer shell. Luckily, the missile did not explode inside the tank. We are talking about a massive missile, one of the most dangerous in the battlefield, which has already been used against the IDF in the Lebanon War."
Hamas used the same missile to attack a school bus approximately a mile from Gaza last year, killing a student. Dozens of other children had stepped off the bus only a few minutes before the attack near Kibbutz Saad, in the western Negev.