What if Iran’s space programme is exactly what the Iranian government says it is… a space programme? What if Iran’s Simorgh and Safir rockets are actual space launch vehicles rather than a cover for the development of long-range ballistic missiles? And, if we are to assume all of this is true, how do Middle Eastern countries and others outside of the region deal with Iran’s space programe and space launch capabilities? ThorGroup’s Dr. John B. Sheldon examines the possibility.
If true, then how the international community deals with Iran’s space programme would more than likely have to change, and might indeed be used as a lever to influence Iran on its shorter-range ballistic missile programme, as well as its nuclear ambitions.
The vast majority of Western defence and security analysts assert that Iranian space launch capabilities, such as the Simorgh and Safir rockets, are merely a cover for Tehran’s intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missile (IRBM and ICBM respectively) development. Furthermore, the majority of analysts claim that the entire Iranian space programme – not just the Simorgh and Safir rockets – are an elaborate cover for this IRBM and ICBM development.
This near-consensus on Iran’s missile programme, however, has been questioned by an American analyst with over 25 years experience as a missile engineer with US aerospace company Lockheed Martin, and a member of a multinational missile inspection team.
The analyst, Mr. Michael Elleman, a Consulting Senior Fellow for Regional Security Cooperation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), lends credence to Iranian claims that its Simorgh and Safir rockets are indeed space launch vehicles rather than experimental IRBM and ICBM missiles.
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