Tags: ballistic missiles, Iran
Comes word over-night of an apparently successful attempt by Iran to place a satellite in orbitusing the Safir-2 space launch vehicle (SLV). The Safir (“Ambassador”) was ingeniously developed as part of Iran’s growing rocket and missile program and has direct links to its attempts to develop extended range missiles in the IRBM and ultimately, ICBM range. Periodicity of the satellite, named “Omid” (“Hope”) is said to be 14 orbits in every 24-hrs according to IRNA, Iran’s press agency.
While congratulations are presumably in order for this accomplishment, one must step back and review its implications. Begin here – as we have previously looked at regional implications of a successful Iranian space-launch and Iranian intransigence on the nuclear front, especially where Israel is concerned. While one presumably successful space launch (still awaiting independent confirmation) does not a missile force make, the fact that the Iranian program marks this success, that it is outside the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and is known to have strong ties with the North Korean and Syrian programs, bodes ill for future proliferation schemes. As the US and its European partners gather this week to review the way ahead for continued engagement regarding Iran’s nuclear program, this shot, coming on the eve of that meeting and near the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution should give the assembled party pause to consider just what are Iran’s intentions, particularly vis-a-vis negotiated agreements and arms control.
In 1985, then speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Hashemi-Rafsanjani stated that acquisition of a viable ballistic missile force was a national priority and Iran would become “…a missile power second only to the superpowers.” As the primary supplier of material and technical assistance to Hamas’ rocket campaign against Israel, as a nation that went from zero capability to conducting operational launches against Iraq during the war of the cities in less than two months in early 1985 and now as one that has joined the handful of other states to have built and launched an indigenous space launch vehicle while actively blocking inspection of its nuclear program, Iran’s challenge to regional peace and stability has just been ratcheted up another notch. Not just Israel, but now Europe, especially the southern tier should and must be more aware of the implicit threat embodied in yesterday’s event.
From Norbert Brugge’s excellent space vehicle site are a large collection of photos of the Safir as released by IRNA. Note the size/scale of the missile compared to the nearby humans.
Arms Control Wonk has analyses of the initial orbital parameters as well as a graphic here and here. See especially the comments – some rudimentary (back of the envelope) calculations seem to yield a range of 2500 km w/a 1,000 kg payload (representative nuke payload).
Finally, apropos the significance of this event in the larger scheme of things, comes this observation in an editorial column in today’s Ria Novosti:
The first sputnik was designed to distract a government that was bent on nuclear arms development.
The effect exceeded all expectations, but that is a different story…
…things that make you go “hmmm…”