Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Iran unveils new, more accurate ballistic missile technology

It comes a day after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran should increase its military might

Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said the Zafar satellite would be sent into orbit on Sunday, 9 February. AP
Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said the Zafar satellite would be sent into orbit on Sunday, 9 February. AP

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard unveiled a new ballistic missile, the country’s state media reported yesterday.

Iran routinely unveils what it describes as new technology for its armed forces before the February anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

State television said the missile, Raad-500, was half the weight of a similar ballistic missile, Fateh-110, but had 200 kilometres more range. The fourth-generation Fateh-110’s range is about 300km.

The Guard also unveiled a new missile engine that uses solid fuel and a satellite carrier that has “movable nozzle technology”. The technology increases a missile’s accuracy in hitting targets.

The US claims such activities defy a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

An Iranian minister said yesterday Tehran will launch a satellite – part of a programme the US says is cover for ballistic missile testing.

“The Zafar satellite will be placed in orbit today from Semnan at a speed of 7,400 kilometres” per hour, Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Iran's Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said, the official IRIB news agency reported.

The US is concerned that long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies its satellite activity is a cover for missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

This Jan. 26, 2020, satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies shows preparations at a rocket launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province. Iranian officials and satellite images suggest the Islamic Republic is preparing to a launch a satellite into space after three major failures last year, the latest for a program which the U.S. claims helps Tehran advance its ballistic missile program. (Planet Labs Inc, Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP)
A January 26 satellite image from Planet Labs Inc that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies shows preparations at a rocket launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre in Iran. Planet Labs Inc, Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP

US President Donald Trump’s administration reimposed sanctions on Iran after Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from an international accord designed to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. Trump said the deal did not go far enough and did not include restrictions on Tehran’s missile programme.

The announcement was made a day after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran should increase its military might to prevent a war.

“We should be strong to prevent any war against the country. Being weak will encourage our enemies to attack Iran,” Khamenei, Iran’s top authority said, state news agency Irna reported.

Iran has faced mounting pressure from western countries to curtail its military capabilities, including its ballistic missile programme.

Once the satellite is in orbit, the first picture that it will transmit will be of slain Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, Mr Azari-Jahromi said on Sunday.

Iran tried and failed to launch satellites at least twice last year.

It launched its first satellite Omid (Hope) in 2009 and the Rasad, or Observation, satellite was sent into orbit in June 2011. Tehran said in 2012 it had launched its third domestically made satellite Navid (Promise).

Updated: February 9, 2020 07:47 PM

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