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Pentagon: Iran’s missile force ‘largest in Middle East’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Av AFP file photo shows Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) firing test missiles during military exercises outside the city of Qom.

A research study conducted by the US Department of Defense has hailed Iran’s achievements in its ballistic missiles program despite decades of Washington-imposed sanctions, saying its arsenal is larger than that of any other Middle Eastern countries.

"Iran has an extensive missile development program, and the size and sophistication of its missile force continues to grow despite decades of counter proliferation efforts aimed at curbing its advancement," the Pentagon study said.

Iran has "the largest missile force in the Middle East," the report added.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US intelligence official said that Israel was included in the analogy.

The US Department of Defense also repeated allegations that Iran’s missiles program was not for peaceful and defensive purposes.

“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, adding that Tehran had developed a series of missiles that could strike at a distance of 2,000 kilometers — capable of reaching Tel Aviv or Riyadh.

Iranian authorities have time and again said that the country’s missile program has not been established for non-conventional purposes and is only meant as part of the country’s deterrence capability.

The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic and other countries.

Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump has been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and sent an aircraft carrier strike group as well as some 1,500 additional forces to the region to counter an alleged threat from Iran.

Iranian officials have dismissed such moves as psychological warfare, saying the country has its own ways of confronting the American animosity.

The Islamic Republic says it poses no threat to any country, but will defend itself if attacked.

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