Iran Regime's Space Threat
By Sedighe Shahrokhi
At the beginning of the year, the Iranian regime made two attempts at satellite launches. However, both failed to reach orbit. The United States objected to the launches for the reason that the technology is the same as that for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Iran threat is something that President Trump has emphasised time and time again. He will not accept Iran’s belligerence and is repeatedly warning about the danger the regime presents to the region and beyond. The Iran threat is growing as it improves its cyberspace capabilities too.
Iran regime’s space program stems from the missile program that started in the eighties. In 2003, the Iranian parliament approved plans for the establishment of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) and the Supreme Space Council (SSC).
The space program was supported by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while he was in office from 2005 at a time when the nuclear tensions between Iran and the West were intensifying.
In 2009, the Omid satellite – Iran’s first indigenous one – was launched with success. The following year, Iranian officials revealed the Simorgh SLV which is based on North Korea’s Nodong missile. In the past three years, Iran has tried a few more Simorgh launches with no success.
Five years ago, the Iranian regime opened a space monitoring centre that is furthering bolstering the country’s space program.
Iran is maintaining that its space program is for peaceful purposes only, just as it has said regarding its nuclear program. However, the Iranian regime is being pressured from all fronts – the United States has re-imposed tough economic sanctions and, on the domestic front, the people of Iran are making widespread calls for regime change.
Finding itself running out of options and becoming increasingly weaker in the region, the regime is looking at other ways to expand its influence. Its cyber capabilities are becoming more sophisticated with time and it is putting a lot of effort into other areas that could serve as threats to the international community.
Last year, President Trump called on Pentagon to set up a “space force” that operates independently from the military. Russia and China objected but it is clear that Trump has realised that there is a potential for a space war. And he was perhaps concerned about Iran’s space capabilities that are improving and advancing all the time.
Iran is not as advanced as Russia and China in its space program, but the threat remains high because of the combined capability of the ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
However, what makes the Iran threat so critical is the regime’s desperation. It is being backed into a corner and this is what will make its future moves unpredictable. For this reason, the Iranian regime must be subject to further sanctions and pressure from the whole of the international community. Only then will it run out of resources.