Iran’s first military satellite will lead to more unrest in the Middle East: experts

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Updated: Apr 22, 2020 4:42 PM

Today’s announcement coincides with the anniversary celebrations of the elite force which was formed on April 22, 1979, based on an order by the late founding father of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini.

Iran, Iran first military satellite, Middle East, Qased, Dasht-e Kavir, Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, Islamic Revolution Guards CorpsIran’s missile and nuclear programme, continue to develop at a rapid pace. (Reuters photo)

Iran on Wednesday announced the launch of its first reconnaissance satellite which will help in its missile and nuclear programme, opine experts. The announcement of the launch was made by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) which has been named as Nour (Light)-1 — aboard Qased (Carrier) satellite carrier. The launch took off from Dasht-e Kavir – Iran’s central desert.

According to news report shared by the Iranian embassy, New Delhi, the satellite has been placed into the orbit 425 kilometres above Earth’s surface.

Today’s announcement coincides with the anniversary celebrations of the elite force which was formed on April 22, 1979, based on an order by the late founding father of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini.

EXPERTS’ VIEWS

Says Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Head, Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative, Observer Research Foundation (ORF) “Despite the fact that Iran has been one of the worst-affected in terms of the COVID-19 cases, Tehran has been engaged in serious strategic competition heightening the tensions in the region. Just days ago, it was engaged in tense encounters with the United States in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Further, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has claimed that it has launched its first military satellite into orbit today.”

“The fact that the military satellite launch was carried out on the 41st anniversary of the establishment of the IRGC is politically and militarily significant. The political importance of the launch was confirmed by none other than the IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami who congratulated the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and said that the launch demonstrates “new dimensions of the defence power of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” calling it a “strategic achievement” for Tehran. This is not the first time that Iran has tried to launch satellites – Tehran had a series of failures before this big symbolic success for the regime,” opines Rajagopalan, Distinguished Fellow at ORF,

According to her “There will be both regional and global reactions to Iran’s military satellite launch. It could spur responses in Israel and Persian Gulf major powers such as Saudi Arabia. UAE has been miles ahead with regard to its space programme including a planned mission to Mars in 2020and has not been caught up in the competition but there could be interesting space tie-ups and collaborations in the region in the coming years.”

Expressing his views, an Indian Army veteran Brig Nalin Bhatia says, “Iran’s claims of the launch of a successful military satellite “Noor”, signifying light, appears to be a case of light at the end of a tunnel.”

“The successful launch preceded by a series of failed launches reflects Iran’s resolve, muscle flexing and defiance to any infringement on its rise to power in the Gulf and Middle East Region. Significantly the launch of reconnaissance satellite is being claimed by IRCG whose chief General Qasem Solemani was killed by the USA in a direct attack by the USA in January this year.”

Bhatia says, “Faced with the challenge of coronavirus and increasing unrest that it is grappling on the domestic front, the launch of a military satellite reflects Iranian belligerence towards the USA and world opinion. The fact that the satellite has been launched in such trying circumstances would not be lost on the global leaders.”

Iran’s missile and nuclear programme, continue to develop at a rapid pace. Also, that country has not shied away from frequently launching these missiles against US-backed targets in Iraq, Syria and areas controlled by its proxies. “Currently we may not be able to assess satellite’s real geo-strategic capabilities. Nevertheless Iran being able to carry out a launch in the backdrop of global sanctions is a significant development.

The current development shows that US-led global sanctions have had minimal effect on Iran from pursuing its quest for obtaining what it wants to achieve its strategic goals with a good measure of assistance from its backers” the army veteran says.

The western world and the USA are currently fighting their own battle against the Corona epidemic. The USA continues to struggle in the middle east due to the lack of a coherent agenda. The launch of the satellite is a challenge to US supremacy and a direct threat to regimes backed by it.

“The US has so far been unable to tame or stop Iran from attacking its interests in the region in spite of killing of Major General Solemani. Iran’s current actions are unlikely to be taken lightly and will only escalate tensions and lead to more instability in the region,” he concludes.

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