Iran’s Burgeoning Strategic Forces

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Iran Strategy Brief #10 | American Foreign Policy Council

Among the Islamic Republic of Iran’s central strategic goals are the preservation of its political regime and its ascension to what it views as its rightful place as the regional hegemon of the Middle East. These objectives have put Iran on an adversarial footing with its immediate neighbors, and with much of the international community.

In pursuit of these goals, Iran has invested significantly in the development of its strategic forces, which today includes the region’s largest and most diverse arsenal of ballistic missiles, increasingly sophisticated cruise missiles, as well as an array of shorter-ranged anti-ship missiles and air defenses. Iran has also established the technological basis for a nuclear weapons program. This effort has included a blend of overt activities under the auspices of a civilian nuclear energy program, and covert activities aimed at expanding Iran’s nuclear weapons potential without international blowback.

This state of affairs has emboldened Iran to continue its missile development programs, which have seen notable advancements over the past several years. In turn, Iran’s missile forces, in tandem with other strategic tools, support a complex national security strategy that both enables the projection of power across the region, and imposes costs on adversaries seeking to directly challenge Iran’s regime.

Access the full brief at the American Foreign Policy Council here. (PDF download)

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Ian Williams, "Iran’s Burgeoning Strategic Forces," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 12, 2018, last modified April 19, 2021,