A senior U.S. intelligence official says Iran will likely buy new advanced fighter jets and tanks next year when a U.N. Security Council arms embargo is scheduled to be lifted.
The official says a new Defense Intelligence Agency assessment of Iran’s military capabilities concludes Tehran is committed to becoming the dominant power in the Middle East. It also finds the Islamic Republic is making rapid progress developing attack drones and other missile systems.
"Iran has an extensive missile development program, and the size and sophistication of its missile force continues to grow despite decades of counterproliferation efforts aimed at curbing its advancement," the assessment added.
The study explains that Iran considers missiles to be a strategic necessity due to the limitations of its air force.
"Lacking a modern air force, Iran has embraced ballistic missiles as a long-range strike capability to dissuade its adversaries in the region -- particularly the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia -- from attacking Iran," the report said.
Iran has "the largest missile force in the Middle East," the report said.
The report comes amid escalating tensions between Iran in the wake of a series of attacks on commercial shipping vehicles and Saudi oil facilities this year that have been blamed on Tehran.
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The intelligence official says Iran would probably buy the tanks and aircraft from Russia and China. The official spoke anonymously to discuss intelligence matters.