February 10, 2020
Iran unveiled a new ballistic missile on Sunday as a “provocative” attempt 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 launchpad.
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 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Sunday that its new Raad-500 missile was powered by a “new generation” of engines.
However, like most of Iran’s “new” technology, the Raad is a development of an older model — the Fateh-110, a ballistic ground-to-ground missile unveiled in 2002. The main change is that the range has increased from 100 to 300km.
Unveiling the new missile and engine, IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami described them as “complicated achievements on the bleeding edge of global technology.”
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 behavior 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.
“Iran and its proxies’ odious behavior will be on display for observers to witness,” he said. “There may be attempts by Iran and its allies to demonstrate their capabilities. But the US and its allies have a full range of tools, including cyberattacks, so all eyes will be watching.
“Acting out through terrorism or militias is not the way to conduct foreign policy. Trying to launch a space vehicle and more missile tests risk more tensions.”