Early on Tuesday, 3 February 2009, Iran launched another satelliteÂ into space. The satellite is named Omid, meaning “hope” in Farsi. The launch has been proclaimed a success by the Iranian Space Agency, the Iranian government, and by numerous unnamed sources in various governments including France and the United Kingdom. According to Iranian mediaÂ outlets, the satellite was launched “for the great celebration of the Iranian nation and the 30th anniversary of the victory of the revolution.”
So what’s the international reaction? According to Eric Chevallier, spokesmen for the Foreign Ministry of France, FranceÂ is “worried” by this launch. Bill Rammel, Minister of Britain’s Foreign Office said that it has given Britain some “serious concerns.” Robert Wood of the U.S. State Department has said that the launch if of “grave concern” to the U.S.
So why is the international community so disturbed by a satellite. According to Major-General (Res.) Isaac Ben-Israel,Â former head of Israel’s Space Agency, Omid, itself, is “primitive,” and less of a satellite than a “box that can collect data, something students at the Technion launched over 10 years ago.” So, then, what’s all the fuss about? It’s not about what the Iranians launched, but rather how they launched it. According to Ben-Israel, one needs “specific and added energy when firing a satellite that weighs between 30 and 50 kilograms into space. If they succeeded, then the equivalent within the atmosphere is firing a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead that weighs one ton all the way to Western Europe.” In other words, a successful launch is essential proving to the world that Iran can effectively threaten Israel, Europe, and soon the United States.
Luckily for the free world, U.S. President Obama intends to talk Iranian President Ahmadinejad out of his country’s nuclear program, which should particularly be possible if Iran can effectively threaten U.S. interests, including Western Europe? Well, as the Political Science theorists posit, at least talk is cheap.