BREAKING NEWS -- Iran Set to Try Space LaunchBy Craig Covault/Aviation Week & Space Technology
Iran has converted its most powerful ballistic missile into a satellite launch vehicle. The 30-ton rocket could also be a wolf in sheep's clothing for testing longer-range missile strike technologies, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine reports in its Jan. 29 issue.
The Iranian space launcher has recently been assembled and "will liftoff soon" with an Iranian satellite, according to Alaoddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.
The move toward an independent space launch capacity is likely to ratchet up concern in the U.S. and Europe about Iran's strategic capabilities and intents. Orbiting its own satellite would send a powerful message throughout the Muslim world about the Shiite regime in Tehran.
U.S. agencies believe the launcher to be a derivation of the 800-1,000-mi. range Shahab 3 missile. A Shahab 3 fired from central Iran could strike anywhere in Israel, Saudi Arabia, the entire Persian Gulf region and as far west as southern Turkey.