US magazine says Iran nearing satellite launch
Islamic Republic converted 30-ton Shihab-3 missile into satellite launch vehicle that will be used to send satellite into space soon, Aviation Week & Space Technology says; move likely to increase American, European concerns over Iran’s strategic capabilities; US okays capture of Iranian agents in Iraq
Iran has converted a 30-ton ballistic missile into a satellite launch vehicle that will be used to send a satellite into space soon, a move that could have wider security implications, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine reported on its Web site on Thursday.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, spoke about the upcoming launch to religious students and clerics in Qom, the industry trade publication said.
The launcher is a version of the Shihab 3 missile that has a range of 800 to 1,000 miles (1,285-1,600 km), the magazine said, citing unidentified US agencies. A missile of its kind could reach Saudi Arabia and as far west as Turkey, the report said.
Launch to increase concerns
Additionally, improvements in space launches could help Iran build an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of almost 2,500 miles (4,000 km), according to the magazine.
The satellite launch by Iran would likely increase concern by the United States and Europe about its strategic capabilities and intentions, the magazine said.
Iran has long been at odds with the United States and Europe, pushing ahead with plans to enrich uranium as part of what Tehran calls a peaceful energy program. The West has feared that Iran instead was trying to develop nuclear weapons.
In another report, US President George Bush has authorized the US military to kill or capture Iranian agents active inside Iraq, according to The Washington Post, citing government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the plan.
The move, approved last fall, is aimed at weakening Iran's influence in the region and forcing Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, the newspaper said, citing the unidentified officials.