Iran and the Gulf Military Balance
(Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies; issued Nov 1, 2012)
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has recently updated a two-part analysis on Iran’s growing military capabilities, Part I: The Conventional and Asymmetric Dimensions and Part II: The Missile and Nuclear Dimensions.

The two-part report draws on the most recent information available, including updated sources and analyses, and provides new insights on Iran’s conventional and unconventional forces. It responds to growing tension in the region with current data on what a military confrontation would entail from Iran’s standpoint.

It incorporates the major strategic components of each side, illuminates Western concerns over developments in Iran’s nuclear program and details its growing emphasis on economic and asymmetric warfare. Click on the links below to download the report.

Part I: The Conventional and Asymmetric Dimensions
focuses on Iran’s ground, sea, air, and air defense forces, with a renewed emphasis on the ability of the Revolutionary Guard to undertake offensive action against the sea lanes in the Strait of Hormuz. Major updates include a far more comprehensive view of Iran’s air-defense network, including Iran’s deteriorating long-range SAM coverage and Iranian efforts to rebuild and reinforce that coverage with imported and domestically-improved foreign systems.

Part I of the analysis also includes sections on nascent direct components of US-Iranian competition – Iran’s use of direct proxy attacks, the (rarely discussed in public) cyber strikes by both sides, and the hydrologically-determined threat of mines and submarines.

Part II: The Missile and Nuclear Dimensions
addresses the unconventional aspects of Iran’s military including its research into advanced ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. The updated ballistic section includes technical specifications on the major classes of Iranian liquid- and solid-fueled missiles, and analyses their potential role within a conventional campaign and as carriers for CBRN weapons.

Part II assesses Iran as having a capable force for short-range massed bombardment, but lacking the precision, munitions, and range to yet threaten forces more than a few hundred kilometers from its shores.

The nuclear program section contains updated figures and charts detailing the recent history of Iran’s nuclear program, its possible military dimensions, Israeli and US strike options and their impact. This section illustrates the continually expanding character of the Iranian nuclear program and demonstrates that Iran has nearly doubled the number of centrifuges at Fordow, increased its output of 20% enriched Uranium, converted nearly 1/3 of its stock of 20% enriched material to fuel plates, and has thus far refused IAEA access to the Parchin facility.

The Iran and Gulf Military Balance Reports Part I & II reassess the likely role of Iran’s growing military capabilities. While it notes that the program is publicly aimed at Israel and the US, and some of Iran’s upgraded technology is oriented toward these states, it concludes that the target of these conventional forces is at least as much Iran’s Arab neighbors as it is extra-regional interlopers. It holds that many of Iran’s anti-Western abilities are aimed at denying the West access as a means to a hegemonic regional end, not as an end itself.

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