US Warns Iran Over Planned Space-Vehicle Launches

January 3, 2019 Updated: January 3, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a warning to the Iranian regime after Iran’s Ministry of Defense announced plans to launch three space vehicles, which feature technology that’s nearly identical to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place international stability and security at risk,” Pompeo said in a statement Dec. 3. “We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation.”

The planned launches will violate a United Nations Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to cease all activity related to nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, according to Pompeo. The Iranian regime test-fired a mid-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads on Dec. 1.

Iranian Deputy Defense Minister General Qassem Taqizadeh previously confirmed that Iran was planning to launch three satellites into space soon.

“The satellites have been made by domestic experts and will be put on various orbits,” Taqizadeh told Iranian media in late November 2018.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force said late last year that the regime conducts 40 to 50 ballistic missile tests every year, prompting France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other nations to express concern.

If launched from Iran, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 6,200 miles could reach U.S. soil.

“The United States has continuously cautioned that ballistic missile and SLV launches by the Iranian regime have a destabilizing effect on the region and beyond,” Pompeo said. “The Iranian regime is the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror and has proliferated missiles and related technology to its proxies around the Middle East.”

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal last year. The White House cited concerns over the deals inability to curtail Iran’s ballistic missile ambitions. Israeli intelligence released in the lead-up to the exit from the deal revealed Iran’s secret efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Washington reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran after exiting the deal. The measures focus on the regime’s energy, oil, shipping, and financial industries, among other targets. The president believes the sanctions are working and have turned Iran into a different country.

“Iran is in trouble,” Trump told reporters Jan. 2.

In July 2017, Iran launched a rocket it said could deliver a satellite into space, an act the U.S. State Department called provocative. Earlier that month, the United States slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program.

Iran says its space program is peaceful, but Western experts suspect it may be a cover for developing military missile technologies.

The Trump administration considers Iran an “outlaw regime” and the world’s foremost supporter of radical Islamic terrorism. In a report (pdf) on the regime’s destructive activities, the United States accuses Tehran of human rights abuses, cybercrime, and environmental exploitation. The regime is also claimed to threaten maritime security in the region and continue facilitating illegal financial activity.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov
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