Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Step aside Sputnik - here comes Iran

Iran has successfully launched an orbital satellite - roughly four decades after Sputnik. Actually, it is still no mean feat. But here comes the predictable hysteria:

In Washington, the State Department called the event worrisome. “Iran’s development of a space launch vehicle establishes the technical basis from which Iran could develop long-range ballistic missile systems,” said Robert A. Wood, a department spokesman.

Aerospace experts said the action had a number of potential military implications, even though the satellite was small and lightweight compared with a nuclear warhead.
While I'm against any country having nuclear weapons - I do think that Iran has been treated quite unfairly. In addition, I actually don't think that Iran will be any more stupider in its use than the US, and perhaps much smarter than Pakistan and possibly even India (retired generals on both sides just love their bomb). So lets not go over board with the launch of a small satellite (or even if its a large satellite for that matter) - Iran will not go out and bomb across continents as soon as it develops the technology. Though it may give it deterrence - and that may actually prevent some wars.

But there are some sane voices also:

“This is no reason to panic,” Charles D. Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview. “It shouldn’t force us to make a missile defense decision in Europe.”

He said Iran’s action had more to do with sending a message to Washington and asserting influence as a regional power than with achieving a new military capability. “It’s a way for the Iranian people to stand proud,” he said, “but to do it in a way that is still within a civilian program.”
Read the full story here.