Iran satellite launch flops

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

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.”


Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

Updated 26 min 36 sec ago

Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

  • “Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” says Bahraini FM
  • Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program

MANAMA: Delegates from more than 60 countries including Saudi Arabia met in Bahrain on Monday to discuss maritime security after attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations, widely blamed on Iran.

“Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told the conference. “We must take a collective stand ... to take the necessary steps to protect our nations from rogue states.”

In a message to delegates, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.

“This meeting comes at a critical moment in history,” he said. “The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, whether by air or sea, poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

“Together, we must all be committed to taking the necessary actions to stop countries that continue to pursue WMD at great risk to all of us.”

Countries taking part in the conference, including Israel, belong to the Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group, created in February during a Middle East conference in Warsaw.

“The meeting is an occasion to exchange views on how to deal with the Iranian menace and to guarantee freedom of navigation,” Bahrain’s foreign ministry said.

After the tanker attacks, the US formed a naval coalition to protect navigation. Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, joined in August, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE followed in September. The UK and Australia are the other main Western partners.