Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE) - A first military satellite named Noor has been launched into orbit by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), from a base in Semnan. The IRGC said the satellite “Noor”, or “Light”, was orbiting 425 km above the earth’s surface.
The IRGC’s leadership said it would give Iran leverage “in intelligence wars.” None of the world’s leading militaries has “a comprehensive defense plan without being in space,” the Guards’ chief Hossein Salami said.
The launch may well be a warning to the United States not to initiate military action against Iran. The collapse in the price of oil has removed one of the restraining factors on Washington in attacking Iran. Previously the United States and its allies feared a surge in oil prices if the Straits of Hormuz were closed in the event of hostilities. At the present time the US President, who is seeking re-election in November, might welcome an oil price increase to save the US shale oil industry that needs oil near $65 a barrel rather than the present $13.
Putting a satellite into space is a major advance for Iran’s military following several failed launch attempts in recent months. The Guards Corps said it used the Qased, or “Messenger”, rocket to launch Noor. “The three-stage Qased satellite launcher uses a combination of solid and liquid fuels,” it said.
Tehran denies U.S. assertions that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.
A U.N. resolution in 2015 “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons following an agreement with six world powers. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed the launch was inconsistent with the U.N. resolution.
“I think every nation has an obligation to go to the United Nations and evaluate whether this missile launch was consistent with that Security Council resolution,” Pompeo said at a news conference.
“I don’t think it remotely is, and I think Iran needs to be held accountable for what they have done,” he added.
President Donald Trump’s administration in May 2018 withdrew from the 2015 accord and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Trump claimed the deal, designed to put curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for Tehran halting its sensitive nuclear work, did not include restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile programme and support for its proxies in the Middle East.
Iranian TV footage showed the satellite carrier was inscribed with a verse of the Koran that Muslims often recite when travelling: “Glory to Him who has subjected this to us, as we could never have done it by our own efforts”.
Regional tensions have been high since the start of the year, when the United States assassinated top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad. Iran retaliated on Jan. 9 by firing missiles at bases in Iraq, apparently causing brain injuries among U.S. troops.
The launch comes as Trump said that the U.S. Navy would fire on Iranian ships if harassed, a week after the United States said 11 vessels from the Guard Corps Navy came dangerously close to U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf.
“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump wrote in a tweet, hours after Tehran’s announcement of the satellite launch.
Senior Pentagon officials said that Trump’s comments were meant as a warning.
“What he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense,” said Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.