Tehran may be interested in purchasing a variety of advanced Russian defence hardware, including the S-400 air defence system, the K-300P Bastion coastal defence system, Su-30 fighter jets, Yak-130 trainers and T-90 main battle tanks, a new report by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) says.
The report, dubbed ‘Iran Military Power’, part of its ‘Military Power’ series which also includes Russia and China, speculates that the Islamic Republic may begin shopping for advanced arms abroad to modernise its military after the United Nations arms embargo against Tehran expires in October 2020, on the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.
Along with Russia, US intelligence officials fear China may be the country’s other major partner. “Iran remains reliant on countries such as Russia and China for procurement of advanced conventional capabilities,” the report notes.
Iranian Missile Power
The report also comments on Iranian achievements in its ballistic missile and drone programmes, pointing out that in spite of spending decades without access to advanced Western technologies, the country’s missile arsenal was now the largest and most advanced in the region.
“Iran has an extensive missile development programme, and the size and sophistication of its missile force continues to grow despite decades of counter-proliferation efforts aimed at curbing its advancement,” the report notes. Tehran, the report adds, now has “the largest missile force in the Middle East.”
Citing Iranian efforts to develop missiles with a 2,000 km+ range, the DIA suggests this “long-range strike capability” is meant “to dissuade its adversaries in the region – particularly the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia – from attacking Iran.”
Finally, the report also comments on Iran’s regional naval capabilities, warning that the country has the means to install over 5,000 sea mines in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, effectively allowing them to shut the vital sea zone down in the event of a conflict.
An estimated one-third of all sea-borne crude oil in the world passes through the Strait of Hormuz on its way to Europe, Asia and other markets.
Iran has repeatedly called on ‘outsiders’ to stay out of the Persian Gulf region after the US, Israel and several of Washington’s regional and European allies announced the formation of a maritime coalition aimed at ensuring the security of commercial vessels in the Gulf amid numerous incidents involving the sabotage or seizure of oil tankers.
Despite nearly four decades of restrictions on the sale of arms by the US and its allies, and a UN Security Council arms embargo adopted in 2006 over Tehran’s suspected nuclear programme, the Islamic Republic has created and adopted a broad range of new military equipment, including everything from Navy gunboats to armoured vehicles, to advanced missile defence systems and satellites.
The country’s defence complex proved its worth in June, when the Revolutionary Guard air defences shot down a $220 million US spy drone over the Strait of Hormuz using the domestically developed air defence system known as the Khordad 3.
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