The genesis of Iran’s space program

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  • #Iran has acquired a robust missile program and Iranian technicians have reverse engineered missiles and radar systems

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  • #Iran may be able to harvest technology and intelligence from the #US drone downed over #Iran in December 2011.

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  • #Iranian officials will shield a ballistic missile program in their desire to achieve #space-based technologies

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Editor's Note: FMSO’s Operational Environment Watch provides translated selections and analysis from a diverse range of foreign articles and other media that analysts and expert contributors believe will give military and security experts an added dimension to their critical thinking about the Operational Environment.

Source: “Bimariha-ye Sa‘ab al-‘Alaj’ Peyamad-i Istiqrar Sepir Mushaki bar Neselha-ye
ayandeh Turkiye
” (“Chronic Diseases [and] the Impact of the Missile Shield on Future
Generations of Turkey,” Fars News Agency. 27 April 2012. 

Michael Rubin:On April 27, Fars News Agency—an Iranian news service close to the Supreme Leader and security services—published a lengthy interview with Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Command, excerpts of which are translated below. Western press reports initially focused upon the title of the interview, which highlighted Hajizadeh’s accusations that the new U.S. radar facility in Turkey would sicken children. While such accusations are sure to be picked up by the opposition in Turkey and Europe and will become a standard part of Iran’s information operations campaign, Hajizadeh’s reflections regarding Iran’s missile program and domestic defense industry are more important.

Underlying Hajizadeh’s remarks are both Iranian defiance and overconfidence. Hajizadeh is fatalistic and embraces a view widespread among veterans of the Iran-Iraq War in both the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and among Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardline faction, which sees strength rising from adversity. Suggestions that Iran can cripple U.S. aircraft carriers imply that Iranian understandings of American redlines imposed by Operation Praying Mantis in 1988 have almost completely evaporated.

Hajizadeh’s confidence also reflects Iran’s growing indigenous arms industry. Whether Iran received assistance from North Korea, Russia, or other powers in the past, the fact remains that Iran has acquired a robust missile program and that Iranian technicians have reverse engineered missiles and radar systems, and, if believed, may also be able to harvest technology and intelligence from the U.S. drone downed over Iran in December 2011.

While some Western officials remain optimistic about the prospect for a breakthrough in nuclear talks, Hajizadeh’s defiance suggests any progress will be fleeting and that a powerful constituency exists inside Iran which believes that they can weather any sanctions Western countries throw at the Islamic Republic.

Hajizadeh’s interview also presages the next negotiations hurdle the West will face with regard to Iran’s military ambitions. Just as Iranian diplomats have justified nuclear enrichment in their desire to enrich uranium and produce isotopes for medical purposes, Iranian officials will increasingly shield a ballistic missile program in their desire to achieve space-based technologies, and will respond with righteous indignation should American officials question the motivations underlying Iran’s space drive.

Michael Rubin is a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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