JEDDAH: Iran unveiled a new ballistic missile on Sunday to launch a satellite into space ended in another embarrassing disaster. The Zafar 1 communications satellite, launched from Imam Khomeini spaceport in Semnan province, plunged back to Earth after its Simorgh carrier rocket failed to reach orbit speed.
It was Iran’s fourth failed attempt to launch a satellite, including one that exploded on the launch pad. Nevertheless, with the anniversary on Tuesday of the 1979 revolution, Tehran is likely to aim to further provoke the US and its regional allies, analysts told Arab News.
The new technologies that made the missiles “cheaper, lighter, faster and more precise” could be applied to all of Iran’s missile classes, he said.
Washington’s aim is to rein in Iran’s ballistic missile program and its destabilizing behaviour in the region. The US has also raised concerns about Iran’s satellite program, which Washington says is a violation of curbs on its development of ballistic missiles.
Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC, told Arab News that Tehran was “likely to stage some event, with loud rhetoric” to mark the revolution’s anniversary and the 40th day of mourning for warlord general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike.
Meanwhile, the US on Tuesday accused Iran of developing missiles under the guise of a satellite program. In a State Department statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The Iranian regime uses satellite launches to develop its ballistic missile capabilities, the technologies used to launch satellites into orbit are virtually identical and interchangeable with those used in longer range systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
An Iranian “Phoenix” rocket launched from Khomeini Spaceport in the country’s Semman province on Sunday failed to put the Zafar 1 communications satellite into orbit due to low speed.
Pompeo further criticized the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, which US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of in 2018 while slapping sweeping sanctions on Iran. In a Twitter post, Pompeo referred to Iran as the “world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” and said it “should not be allowed to develop and test ballistic missiles.”
Tensions between Washington and Tehran soared last month after Trump ordered a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, as he visited Iraq, where Iranian-allied Shiite militias had fired rockets on bases housing US troops.