U.S. officials have strongly challenged a report that the United States is carrying out secret reconnaissance missions in Iran to identify targets for possible military strikes.

The U.S. Defense Department, in a statement Monday, said the article is "so riddled with errors of fundamental fact" that it has no credibility.

The story in The New Yorker magazine says the Bush administration has sent secret commando teams into Iran to pick out nuclear, chemical and missile sites that could be destroyed by airstrikes and commando raids.

The article was written by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, who exposed the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison last year. Mr. Hersh cites a former high-level intelligence official and a U.S. government consultant as sources for the story.

White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said Mr. Hersh's story is "riddled with inaccuracies" with some conclusions not based on fact.