How is West Struggling to Block Iran’s Space Advances?
Story Code : 773411
Meanwhile, although the Western countries experienced modernization and industrialization a couple of centuries before other states have become technological forerunners, over the past few decades, some states have worked towards domestication of technology and reduced their distance from the top countries. The East Asia nations are a good example.
The rise of rivals to the Western powers’ technological superiority bolstered the idea of the decline of the Western global hegemony in the near future. This is one important thing, among others, that builds a confrontation between the rivals on the global stage.
In fact, the powerful countries no longer consider using hard power and force to dominate the other nations. Their policy is changing. Hard power has given place to soft power. One setting for such a policy change is the space industry and technology and the competition surrounding it. Like other power-building factors, the space industry is an area of the technology titans’ face-off. The US and Russia are almost the oldest rivals in space technology. But new, mainly China, the EU, and Japan, players have arrived a couple of decades ago. Their long steps met considerable successes over the past few years. Positioning, communication, military, and remote monitoring are the areas to which satellites were built, giving their operators an element of power.
Iran is also a newcomer to the space club as it over the past decade used its scientific potentials to domesticate this highly complicated and expensive technology. Since 2004, the Iranian space program stepped into a massive research and development stage where satellites were produced for various uses. Now Iran is the world’s eighth country with full space cycle technology, a place enabling it to produce and launch satellites into space. So far, Tehran has managed to develop various satellites and probes and send them into the orbit.
Missile proliferation, Western ruse to hamper Iran’s space developments
Last week, Iran’s attempt to launch into space an Earth monitoring and imaging satellite, dubbed Payam (Message), faced sheer Western media blackening campaign. The anti-Iranian wave was initiated by the Israeli and American officials who, seeking to cover their clear-to-all antipathy to Iranian progression, painted Tehran’s space program as an appendage of the Islamic Republic’s “purely defensive” missile program.
Israeli regime's premier Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at army headquarters in Tel Aviv in a ceremony welcoming the new Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Major General Aviv Kochavi, accused Iran of lying about its satellite program, adding “Iran is launching an innocent satellite, but is actually interested in reaching the first stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile, violating agreements."
Following Tel Aviv were Washington and Paris whose stances copied Netanyahu’s stances. Condemning the launch, French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said: "The Iranian ballistic program is a source of concern for the international community and France”.
“We call on Iran not to proceed with new ballistic missile tests designed to be able to carry nuclear weapons, including space launchers, and urge Iran to respect its obligations under all U.N. Security Council resolutions,” von der Muhll continued.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also came against Iran’s civil space program. He claimed the satellite launch was a violation of UN 2231 resolution which asks Iran to end ballistic missile launches.
Earlier this month, US National Security Advisor John Bolton had warned Iran of carrying out the planned launch of three civil satellites. He alleged the satellite launches are used to cover tests of nuclear-capable missiles despised to attack the US and other countries.
Along with this propaganda, Reuters reported that European representatives in Tehran during a meeting with Iranian foreign ministry officials said Europe no longer tolerates Iran’s missile program and considers sanctions against it.
But does really the West oppose Iran’s space program because of concerns about nuclear arms development? The answer is definitely no. Today and particularly after Trump’s withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, the world knows well that nuclear program is solely a pressure pretext used against Tehran to prevent the progress of Iran as an independent country that oppoes the imperialist powers’ domination of the highly sensitive West Asia region. All International Atomic Energy Agency reports confirm Tehran commitment to the law, while the West declines to fulfill its commitments to Iran mentioned in 2015 nuclear agreement.
Apparently, Iran’s progress in such outstanding technologies as nuclear and space, both monopolized by global powers, will enhance the Iranian power and position globally. This will motivate other regional countries to take similar steps, something not appealing to the Western powers. Drawing links between space and missile programs– having in mind that Tehran’s missile program is legal and compliant with international law– only exposes the West’s concern over Iran’s technological advances.
The US military and scientific circles question their political leaders’ view of Iran space program. Last week, New York Times, citing a top American diplomat, reported: “Pentagon and intelligence agencies disagreed with Mr. Pompeo’s interpretation of the threat posed by the satellite launches.” Earlier, CNN had disputed Pompeo understanding of the satellite launches, saying despite Pompeo's argument that the satellite launching rockets technology is the same used in long-range missiles, there was no sign Payam launch was for military uses.
“Does Iran have an ICBM capability? They do not,” the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, General Mike Ashley, told Congress in March 2018 when asked about the Simorgh, one of two Iranian satellite-launching rockets. “Could they take that space-launch vehicle and start working that toward an ICBM capability? They could, but that is many years out”, Quartz.com website reported.
Experts say Simorgh (Phoenix) is half the US satellite carrier Falcon 9 and of course is not capable of reaching the US. While Simorgh length is 27 meters, Falcon 9’s is 70 meters.
Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, suggests that “the technologies that the Iranians are working on in their Safir (Envoy) and Simorgh rockets are not suitable or are not preferred for missiles.”
There are a couple of issues about the satellite launching rockets. They are easily monitored and take a long time for their liquid fuel to be pumped in. Simorgh and Safir technology is not suitable for intercontinental missiles because the Iranian satellite rockets are launched from a fixed station but the intercontinental missiles require high movement capabilities.
Quartz website quoted Markus Schiller, a private analyst based in Germany, as saying to NPR news that “Iran always claims that they don’t want to build an ICBM but they want to pursue a space program. That’s what I’m seeing right now.”