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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Feb 25th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Iran’s satellite and rockets: concerns and actions
Iran’s satellite and rockets: concerns and actions PDF Print E-mail
Written by FIKRET ERTAN, f.ertan@todayszaman.com   
Sunday, 15 March 2009


Even under international sanctions an isolated Iran has managed to make significant headway in both its nuclear program and its ballistic missile capabilities.  In this regard, the latest achievement is its successful launch of a domestically produced satellite by a carrier rocket last month. The Omid (Hope) satellite, sent into space as Iran marked the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, was designed for research and telecommunications purposes, carrying experimental satellite control devices and power supply systems. The rocket used to launch the satellite was a two-stage Safir-2 ("ambassador" in Farsi) rocket. The Safir is based on older Russian technology, although Iran claims to have improved the design in the Safir-2, which was first tested last August and has a reported range of 150 miles (241.35 kilometers).

Many aerospace experts admit that the launch of Safir-2 was significant and important, as the completion of the satellite took many years of preparation and required the mastery of "staging" -- the art of creating a multistage rocket that drops weight in stages, incrementally propelling it higher and higher. In this successful launch Iran achieved a milestone, joining the US, Russia, France, the UK, Japan, China, India and Israel as a nation that has successfully put a satellite into orbit.

After the launch Western powers and Israel voiced concerns that the satellite could be used to launch nuclear warheads. “It is certainly a reason for us to be concerned about Iran and its continued attempts to develop a ballistic missile program of increasingly long range,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoffrey Morrel told reporters. British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Bill Rammell said it “underlines and illustrates our serious concerns about Iran's intentions,” adding that it sent the “wrong signal to the international community.” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said his nation is “worried that there is … the development of capacities that can be used in the ballistic framework.”

Israel also exhibited its concern over the satellite and the rocket. In fact, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was impressed by the launch and said that it is an "Iranian technological feat" and proof of the country's intelligence and military capabilities. He also did not miss the opportunity created by the launch to call for tighter sanctions on Iran.

Of course, these concerns still persist today, as proven by this week's US Senate panel discussion on Iran's nuclear program and the Safir-2 satellite. Voicing these concerns, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told the panel that the launch of Safir-2 advanced Iran's knowledge in its ability to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The US and Israel's concerns undoubtedly will result in action. In our opinion they translate into covert attempts to both learn as much as possible and to thwart Iran's strides in nuclear and ballistic fields. To give an example let me mention a news item which appeared in some papers:

According to this news, hostile unmanned aerial vehicles flew over Iran last month and disrupted communications systems at the launch site of a missile carrying the Omid satellite. Subsequently an Iranian leader was quoted by an Iranian news agency as having said in recent discussions that the disruption of communications caused a delay of several hours to the launch of the rocket, which had to be operated with the use of a backup system.

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said drones flew at a very a high altitude and used sophisticated electronic equipment to jam and disrupt ground-based communication systems. He also said that a decision was made to shoot down the drones with fighter planes, but it was decided not to do so for reasons he declined to explain.

These drones in question were, of course, either American or Israeli, since no other country possesses drones of this kind in the region. The appearance of foreign aircraft also implies the aerial vulnerability of Iran.

All in all, we can say that concerns over Iran result in many covert actions, which, by nature, remain unknown to us.



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