Iran satellite launch flops

The launch was highly criticized by the US. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Iran satellite launch flops

  • Regime’s technology ‘shoddy’ because of sanctions pressure, analyst tells Arab News
  • Earlier in January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran’s plans for sending satellites into orbit demonstrate the country’s defiance of a UN Security Council resolution

JEDDAH: An attempt by Iran to put a communications and imaging satellite into orbit on Tuesday turned into an embarrassing flop when the rocket carrying it could not travel quickly enough.

The launch sent “a message of the pride, self-confidence and will power of Iranian youth to the world,” Iranian TV reported in a live broadcast. Minutes later, the rocket failed and the Payam satellite plunged into the Indian Ocean.

The first and second stages of the Simorgh rocket fired successfully but the third stage “did not reach adequate speed,” Telecoms Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi admitted. “I would have liked to make everybody happy with good news, but sometimes life doesn’t go forward the way we anticipate.” 

The satellite was equipped with four cameras and was intended to orbit at an altitude of 500km gathering information on environmental change in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said before the launch.

“The satellite will give us all the information we need, and we will prove to the world that we are a country of science,” he said.

However, the US had warned Tehran against the launch because the rocket used long-range missile technology, in violation of the UN Security Council resolution that enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

Washington is concerned that the technology can also be used to launch warheads. “The US will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place international stability and security at risk,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this month.

Both the satellite and its carrier rocket were designed and produced at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. Their failure is the latest in a series of embarrassments, as Iran’s military and civilian infrastructure continues to suffer from years of international isolation and the reintroduction of US sanctions this year.

A report by defense industry specialists Jane’s said: “Iranian weapons often fall short, literally and metaphorically.”

It was important to note overlaps between Iran’s satellite and ballistic missile programs, Dr. Theodore Karasik, senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, told Arab News.

“Launching objects into the atmosphere or into space takes a particular expertise and technology capability,” he said. “Iran has managed to do both, but through cheating, either in terms of illicit transfers of technology or keeping key scientists under wraps.

“Nevertheless, the bottom line is that what Iran produces is still shoddy, and subject to what is available in the sanctions marketplace.”


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 28 min 6 sec ago
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.