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Pentagon: Iran Missile Advances Possible

The U.S. Defense Department says it is possible Iran has made improvements in its missile forces, but a spokesman has also warned that Iran has exaggerated its capabilities in the past.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman responded Monday to Iranian claims that in recent days it has tested improved airborne and undersea missiles. He said Iran has conducted many tests during the past year of both ballistic and anti-ship missiles, and it would not be surprising if it has made some progress during that time.

"We know that the Iranians are always trying to improve their weapons systems by both foreign and indigenous measures," he said. "It's possible that they are increasing their capability and making strides in radar absorbing materials and targeting. However, the Iranians have been known also to boast and exaggerate their statements about greater technical and tactical capabilities."

Whitman says ballistic missiles have long been an important part of Iran's military strategy, and that the country has the largest inventory of such missiles in the Middle East.

Iran has announced three weapons advances during war games it began conducting on Friday. The latest announcement involved a torpedo fired on Monday that Iranian state television says is capable of destroying enemy ships and submarines "at any depth and any speed."

Earlier, Iran said it had successfully test fired an airborne missile that can avoid enemy radar and deliver warheads to several targets simultaneously. It also announced the test firing of a new high-speed underwater missile.

The Pentagon spokesman said Iran's war games and his comments on them have nothing to do with the effort by the United States and several other world powers to convince Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. The Security Council has demanded that Iran stop enriching uranium, an important step in producing fuel that could be used in a nuclear bomb.