US slams Iran’s space missile launch

The US responded with strong criticism on Wednesday to Iran’s announcement earlier that day that it had launched a military satellite into space.

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The US responded with strong criticism on Wednesday to Iran’s announcement earlier that day that it had launched a military satellite into space.

Speaking to reporters, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the launch as a violation of a key UN Security Council resolution and called for Iran “to be held accountable.”

Iran’s Space Missile Launch: two issues

Iran successfully launched a military satellite for the first time. The launch was conducted not by the regular armed forces, but by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The IRGC’s satellite launch came on the 41st anniversary of its founding—in the very early days of the Iranian revolution.

It was not previously known that the IRGC had a space program, and Pompeo stressed the IRGC’s role, noting that it is “a designated terrorist organization.”

The launch poses two challenges. One is the satellite itself and the prospect of Iran putting more satellites in space.

“Today, we can observe the world from space,” IRGC Commander, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami said, as he hailed his organization’s space success, and that “means the expansion of the strategic data of the IRGC’s mighty defense power.”

The second issue involves Iran’s missile program. The same technology involved in putting a satellite into space also allows for the development of long-range missiles, including intercontinental missiles that could target the US, as well as Europe.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, calls for limits on Iran’s ballistic missile program for eight years—i.e. until 2023, and Pompeo stated that Iran was in violation of that agreement.

The spokesman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry, Christofer Burger, criticized Iran’s missile program as having “a destabilizing effect on the region” and, he said, it is “unacceptable in view of our European security interests.”

The biggest danger is that Iran could develop the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead with an intercontinental missile. In the longer-term, that is an issue, but Iran now does not have a nuclear bomb, let alone one small enough to put on a missile.

Warning to Iran over Harassment of US Navy

On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted, “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’s warning appeared to be independent of the IRGC’s satellite launch, referring to events on April 15, when the US Navy was conducting exercises in international waters in the Persian Gulf.

“Eleven IRGC Navy small boats” repeatedly engaged in “high speed, harassing approaches,” the State Department explained. “The Iranian vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the US ships coming as close as to within 10 yards of a US Coast Guard Cutter.”

Trump later repeated his warning at an early evening press conference on the coronavirus. “We’re not going to stand for it,” he said. “If [the Iranians] do that, that’s putting our ships at danger, our great crews and sailors in danger. I’m not going to let that happen.”

Shortly after Trump spoke, Secretary of Defense, Dr. Mark Esper, appeared on Fox News. “If they threaten our warships, our commanders have the right of self-defense, and we will execute that right,” he affirmed.

“They need to be mindful of how they conduct themselves,” Esper said, “and they need to conduct themselves professionally.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany