Iran working on sending man into space; seen as cover for missile program

Iranian space plan is seen as a way to advance Tehran’s ballistic missile capability.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Even as various countries, including the U.S. and Israel, say they are continuing to ensure that Iran never attains a nuclear bomb, Tehran says that it is already setting its sights higher, literally.

The Islamic Republic is working to send a man into space within the next five years.

It is part of a rocket-launching program that is believed by a number of governments to be a cover for the Iranian work on advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Iran first launched a satellite into space in 2009.

In the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal that was reached in 2015 between Tehran and six world powers, billions of dollars in cash windfalls have been freed up, allowing the Iranians to continue working on advanced rocket systems that are very similarly related to ICBM technology, says the Washington Free Beacon, an American conservative political website.

A report on Iran’s space program carried by one of the country’s state news channels this month said that Tehran now has a new goal: to launch a man into space within the next five years.

“In the framework of a five-year plan, we intend to launch a man into space on our own, in order to become one of the aerospace industry powers,” the news report stated, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “We hope to see that day,” it said.

“You’ll see in a handful of days the Iranians intend to launch a space launch vehicle,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, quoted by the Free Beacon, in Abu Dhabi during a recent trip across the region. “The claim is that it is to put some satellites in the air. The truth is this will be another step in their understanding of how it is you can launch an ICBM,” the secretary added.

He called on the international community “to come together” in opposition, noting that such tests violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran to stop its ongoing tests of various types of advanced ballistic missiles.

Iranian officials said on Tuesday that they already have the technology and know-how to increase the range of their ballistic missiles and are now concentrating on improving the accuracy of the projectiles.

“Iran has no scientific or operational restriction for increasing the range of its military missiles, but based on its defensive doctrine, it is continuously working on increasing the precision of the missiles,” Ali Shamkhani, a confidant of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying by state-controlled broadcaster IRIB.

Iranian officials have insisted that the missile program is out of the realm of any talks surrounding its contested military nuclear program. It is one of the problems cited by the U.S. and Israel concerning the 2015 deal.

Tehran is believed to have one of the largest stockpiles of ballistic missiles in the region, including projectiles which are capable of reaching Israel and part of Europe. In addition, Iran says Hezbollah and other proxies possess such missile technology and are prepared to launch them from locations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.