WASHINGTON - Iran has been developing a cruise missile capability to support its arsenal of Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
U.S. officials and defense analysts said Iran appears to be developing a cruise missile with a range of 300 kilometers as part of a multi-layered guided weapons capability. They said Iran has pursued a dual development track that will ensure that cruise missiles will support the Shihab-3 and Shihab-4 intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Iranian cruise missiles were also meant to defeat U.S.-origin missile defense systems. The United States has offered the PAC-3 missile defense system to Gulf Cooperation Council states and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were said to have expressed interest.
The Iranian strategy, officials said, is directed largely against the U.S. presence in the northern Persian Gulf. But they said Iranian cruise missiles would also threaten land and sea targets in all of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf. This would include the United Arab Emirates, which has disputed the Iranian seizure of three islands claimed by Abu Dhabi.