Report: Western Intelligence Agencies Anticipating Imminent Iranian Space Launch; Fear Carrier Rocket Capable of Holding Nuclear Warhead
Western intelligence agencies believe Iran is about to launch a satellite into space, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Sunday.
According to the report, the satellite will be launched by the Islamic Republic’s orbital carrier rocket, Simorgh. Aside from the serious intelligence-gathering that this will provide Tehran, the report said, the West fears the launcher will be used for military purposes, as well, due to its capacity to reach deep into Europe and carry nuclear warheads.
A number of weeks after North Korea successfully launched a satellite into space, Iran began to gear up for its own launch, which intelligence sources assess will take place within a few days from now. According to Channel 2, this assessment is based on Western satellite photos revealing that the launching site in the Iranian city of Semnan, some 200 kilometers from Tehran, is ready.
These photos show many vehicles driving around the area of the launching site, carrying what are believed to be components of the Simorgh rocket, the largest two-phased missile developed by Iran.
In addition, the Iranian space agency has issued warnings about the possibility of an imminent launch.
Tal Inbar, head of the Israeli NGO, the Space and UAV Research Center at the Fisher Institute, told Channel 2 that Iranian data indicates the Simorgh has the capability of launching the heaviest satellites with the highest quality of photography. The concern is that if Iran is capable of developing rocket launchers like the Simorgh, it will also be able to develop long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.
Since the recent implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers in July, Iran has been boasting of its missile development, which the West says constitutes a violation of the agreement.
Revelations of Western concerns about the imminent launch come on the heels of Friday’s elections in Iran for the Majlis (parliament) and Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for appointing the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, a title for life. Because of current leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s relatively advanced age — 78 — there is speculation that the newly elected Assembly will end up charged with appointing his successor.