TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has dramatically improved the accuracy of its ballistic missiles by using laser systems, its defense minister said Monday.
In comments broadcast on state TV, Hossein Dehghan said Iranian missiles can now strike within two meters (yards) of their targets, compared to 200 meters (yards) previously.
"The inaccuracy of (our) ballistic long-range missiles in hitting targets is so minimal that we can pinpoint targets. The accuracy of surface-to-surface missiles is now two meters, while at some stage in the past it was 200 meters. We strive to reach zero inaccuracy," Dehghan said. The remarks were also posted on his ministry's website.
Iran frequently announces breakthroughs in military technology that are impossible to independently verify. But the Pentagon released a rare public report last June noting significant advances in Iranian missile technology, acknowledging that the Islamic Republic has improved the accuracy and firing capabilities of its missiles.
Many of Iran's missiles use solid fuel, or a combination of both solid and liquid fuel, improving the accuracy of the weapons.
Iran has a variety of missiles, some with a reported range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), enough to reach much of the Middle East. Military commanders have described them as a strategic asset and a strong deterrent, capable of hitting U.S. bases or Israel in the event of a strike on Iran.
Commanders said Iran's capability of firing multiple missiles within seconds is another technological achievement by Iran's military. They say this would create a challenge for the U.S. or Israel to intercept incoming missiles should a war break out.
Iran unveiled several underground missile silos in 2011. Revolutionary Guard commanders say the medium- and long-range missiles stored in them are ready to launch in case of an attack on Iran. Such sites are harder to detect and can arm faster than missiles outdoors.
Iran's military leaders believe future wars will be air- and sea-based. Tehran has sought to upgrade its missile and air defense systems as well as naval power in anticipation of such a possibility.
Iran considers both the United States and Israel as potential adversaries. Neither country has ruled out a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, which they say could have a military dimension. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.
Israel is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away from Iran's western borders, while the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Iranian shores in the Persian Gulf.
Iran's military leaders have said Israel would "disappear from the Earth" if it attacks Iran. Guard commanders have also warned that at least 35 American military bases in the Middle East are within Iran's missile range and would be destroyed within seconds after any U.S. attack on Iran.
Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, it has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, torpedoes, drones and fighter planes.