Named Omid, or hope, the satellite weighs around 60 pounds and is primarily a "data-processing satellite" according to IRNA, the state news agency. Last summer, Iran said they successfully put a dummy satellite in space, but this appears to be the first time a working piece of hardware was put into orbit.
As we all know, space programs aren't all for planting flags in far-off rocks in the name of fellowship, exploration and the triumph of the human spirit—they're primarily for figuring out how to toss warheads at your far-flung enemies around the world. The differences between a rocket and an intercontinental ballistic missile are very few, and that's clearly one of the many messages Iran is hoping to send home with this launch.
The NYTimes is quoting David Washington, a proliferation expert at the Institute for Science and International Security, who says the Safir 2 rockets do not pose a serious threat:
“It’s not a very capable missile. The payload and diameter aren’t that great,” he said. “It doesn’t say much, if anything, about their ability to deliver a nuclear weapon. But part of the concern here is that Iran is continuing its steady drip-drip-drip toward a nuclear weapons capability.”
White house spokesman Robert Gibbs said the US will use "all elements of our national power" to deal with any potential threat posed by these new developments. [NYTimes, Breitbart]
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