US sceptical about Iran's hypersonic missile claim

Tehran's 'big generational leap' was reported by Iranian media last week

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps displays its Dezful, Zolfgahr and Qiam missiles in Tehran in January. AP Photo
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The US is sceptical about Iran's claim that it has developed a hypersonic missile, the Pentagon said.

Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency last week quoted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp's aerospace commander as saying Iran had built a hypersonic ballistic missile.

“This missile has a high speed and can manoeuvre in and out of the atmosphere. It will target the enemy's advanced anti-missile systems and is a big generational leap in the field of missiles,” commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said on Thursday: “We've seen the reports asserted and coming out of Iran. We remain sceptical of these reports.”

Hypersonic missiles can fly at least five times faster than the speed of sound and on a complex trajectory, which makes them difficult to intercept.

However, there have been no reports of such a missile being tested by Iran and, while the country has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of international sanctions and embargoes, western military analysts say it sometimes exaggerates its weapons capabilities.

Earlier this month, Iran said it tested its first three-stage space launch vehicle, the Ghaem 100, which would be able to place satellites weighing 80kg in an orbit 500km from the Earth's surface.

The US has called such actions “destabilising” as it believes the technology used in space launch vehicles could used be for missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Concern about Iran's missile programme was a factor in then-president Donald Trump's decision in 2018 to pull the US out of a 2015 deal between Iran and world powers that was aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies wanting to develop atomic weapons.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: November 23, 2022, 5:56 PM