Iran says it launched satellite
Photo: AP
Step closer to bomb
Iranian satellite has little significance but ballistic capabilities cause for concern
A year ago exactly, Iran announced that it launched the first satellite developed by its scientists. President Ahmadinejad himself was seen on television punching in the launching orders of the Omid ("hope" in Persian) satellite. A few days later it turned out to be a false announcement.


Now, precisely a year to the day of that failure, Iran again announced that the Omid satellite was launched into space. We would do well to wait several days before we know whether this is yet another declaration on the occasion of the Islamic revolution festivities meant for domestic purposes only.


Yet if the launching of the satellite was successful, what are the implications for Israel? In essence, we can say that the satellite should not be concerning us, yet the ballistic missile behind the launch should certainly worry us.


As far as we know, the Omid satellite is a small box weighing only dozens of kilograms. Moreover, it does not include any kind of photography equipment. We are therefore dealing with a primitive satellite that has little significance in military or technological terms. A much more complex satellite was built more than a decade ago by students at Israel's Technion and it is alive and well in space to this day.


Warning sign to world

Yet the launcher is a different story. As we know, Iran is engaged in developing nuclear capabilities. To that end, it needs a bomb and a missile that could carry it to its target. International conventions limit activity in two areas: The Non-Proliferation Treaty limits involvement with uranium enrichment, and the Missile Technology Control Regime imposes similar limits on the development of ballistic missiles.


Iran found a way to circumvent these two conventions via cover stories: First, it claims that it deals with uranium enrichment for "peaceful means" - that is, in order to produce fuel for nuclear power stations they intend to build. Secondly, its involvement in launching satellites into space enables Iran to claim that its missile development was also undertaken for peaceful purposes, for the benefit of science and space research, and has nothing to do with ballistic missiles.


Iran already possesses ballistic capabilities that enable it to fire missiles at Israel. If indeed its latest launching succeeded, we are dealing with an expansion of this capability to ranges that could threaten not only Israel, but also central European nations.


The combination of progress in uranium enrichment capabilities and the development of ballistic capabilities constitutes a warning sign to Israel and to the entire Free World.


פרסום ראשון: 02.04.09, 18:33
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