An unclassified portion of the “Annual Report on Military Power of Iran,” dated January 2013 and made available by the Pentagon today, also states that Iran is continuing to develop both the “technological capabilities applicable to nuclear weapons” and “ballistic missiles that could be adapted to deliver nuclear weapons.” In December 2012 US sources were sceptical about Iran’s ability to reach such milestone by 2015. Tehran encountered a major obstacle in 2011, after an explosion killed 21 people during a test, among the casualties was Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam, who was in charge of the country’s missile program.
The Defense Department adds that Iran “continues to develop technological capabilities applicable to nuclear weapons” and is “proceeding with uranium enrichment and heavy-water nuclear reactor activities in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Iran “also continues to develop ballistic missiles that could be adapted to deliver nuclear weapons,” it states. Despite “increased pressure resulting from sanctions” imposed by the United Nations, there “has been no change to Iran’s national security and military strategies over the last year,” according to the report.
In the past Iran was reportedly working on ‘Project Koussar’, a ballistic missile capable of reaching targets at ranges of 4000 – 5000 km. These missiles, sometime referred to as Shahab 5 and Shahab 6 were believed to be based on different propulsion used on the Shahab 3. Some sources indicated the Iranians were erlying on the RD-216 originally developed for the SS-5 IRBM and also used to with the Kosmos SL8 satellite launcher.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last month that “we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” The U.S. government’s 17 intelligence agencies, according to Clapper, “judge Iran would likely choose a ballistic missile as its preferred method of delivering a nuclear weapon, if one is ever fielded,” he said in the U.S. intelligence community’s annual worldwide threat assessment. These missiles are capable of delivering a weapon of mass destruction, he said.
“In addition, Iran has demonstrated an ability to launch small satellites, and we grow increasingly concerned that these technical steps — along with a regime hostile toward the United States and our allies — provide Tehran with the means and motivation to develop larger space-launch vehicles and longer-range missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile,” according to Clapper.