Iran Set to join in the Space Race
The ability to launch satellites into orbit is initself not a major threat, but it is another step in developing a delivery system capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
From Aviation Week
Iran has converted its most powerful ballistic missile into a satellite launch vehicle. The 30-ton rocket could also be a wolf in sheep’s clothing for testing longer-range missile strike technologies, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine reports in its Jan. 29 issue.
The Iranian space launcher has recently been assembled and “will liftoff soon” with an Iranian satellite, according to Alaoddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.
The move toward an independent space launch capacity is likely to ratchet up concern in the U.S. and Europe about Iran’s strategic capabilities and intents. Orbiting its own satellite would send a powerful message throughout the Muslim world about the Shiite regime in Tehran.
U.S. agencies believe the launcher to be a derivation of the 800-1,000-mi. range Shahab 3 missile. A Shahab 3 fired from central Iran could strike anywhere in Israel, Saudi Arabia, the entire Persian Gulf region and as far west as southern Turkey.
There are concerns in the West that space launch upgrades, however, could eventually create an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of nearly 2,500 mi., giving Tehran the ability to strike as far as central Europe, well into Russia and even China and India.
The last couple of paragraphs of the article are also important.
A November 2006 Congressional Research Service report reinforced concerns over Iranian and North Korean missile development ties. It notes that Israel’s military intelligence chief has information indicating that North Korea has shipped to Iran eighteen 1,500 mi. range BM-25 ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
“Largely with foreign help, Iran is becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles,” says the report’s author, Kenneth Katzman. And he reminds that a 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy Document notes, “The United States may face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran.
That foreign help is largely Russia, China and North Korea.