Iran’s Military Satellite Launch May Escalate Gulf Crisis
Last updated on May 19th, 2020
The Gulf crisis has always been the centre of debate. Recently, Iran-US tensions escalated again after Iran claimed to have launched its first military satellite into orbit successfully.
Iranian Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) said the satellite, named Nur (Light), reached an orbit of 425km (264 miles) after being carried by a three-stage Qased launcher.
The launch of the missile came shortly after US President Donald Trump tweeted that he had instructed the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea”.
In January, US drones had killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. In retaliation, IRGC fired ballistic missiles at Iraqi military bases hosting US forces, thus further aggravating the US-Iran tensions and the Gulf crisis.
Criticising Trump’s tweet, a spokesman for the Iranian armed forces said that “instead of bullying others” the US should focus on “saving the contingent of their [armed] forces that has been infected with coronavirus”, thereby referring to the alarming number of positive virus cases in the US.
The Qased carrier was inscribed with a verse from the Koran that read: “Glory be to Him, who has subjected this to us, and we ourselves were not equal to it.”
IRGC’s commander-in-chief, Maj-Gen Hossein Salami, said the force had taken “a major step in promoting the scope of [its] strategic information capabilities. Today, we are looking at the Earth from the sky, and it is the beginning of the formation of a world power.”
IRGC Aerospace Force commander Brig-Gen Amir-Ali Hajizadeh proudly declared that “only superpowers” have the capability to use “a compound of liquid and solid propellants”, which was used in the Qased .
It is not for the first time that Iran has tried to launch a satellite. In February, Iran’s attempt to the Zafar communications satellite into orbit failed. Last year also Iran had two failed launches with one mysterious launch that destroyed the satellite launch vehicle.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he thinks the launch defied a UN Security Council resolution of 2015. The resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
“Every nation has an obligation to go to the United Nations and evaluate whether this missile launch was consistent with that Security Council resolution. I don’t think it remotely is, and I think Iran needs to be held accountable for what they have done,” Pompeo said.
The US fears that the long-range ballistic technology used to launch satellites into orbit could be used by Iran to launch longer-range weapons, including nuclear weapons.
However, denying the assertions put forward by the US, Iran claims to have no intention of developing nuclear weapons.
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