(Funny how there are no massive street demonstrations in Europe this time around, unlike when Reagan proposed missiles in Europe. The Europeans must see Iran as much more a threat than they ever saw the USSR.)
The Times of London ran the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite photo today after it was published by by Jane's Intelligence Review, which ran it after the imagery was analyzed by a former Iraq weapons inspector.
A close examination of the photographs has indicated that the Iranians are following the same path as North Korea, pursuing a space programme that enables Tehran to acquire expertise in long-range missile technology.
Geoffrey Forden, a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that there was a recently constructed building on the site, about 40 metres in length, which was similar in form and size to the Taepodong long-range missile assembly facility in North Korea.
Avital Johanan, the editor of Jane's Proliferation, said that the analysis of the Iranian site indicated that Tehran may be about five years away from developing a 6,000km ballistic missile. This would tie in with American intelligence estimates and underlines why President Bush wants the Polish and Czech components of the US missile defence system to be up and running by 2013.
An Iranian space program is as much a laugher as an Iranian nuclear electrification program. I'm certain the Mad Mullahs would rail against spending Allah's hard earned petrodollars on such trivial pursuits as space research when there are perfectly fine jihads to fight right here on terra firma.
And indeed, people more expert then me agree, at least on the technical aspects of the matter:
A number of years ago on TV, I saw a segment on cops and car theft busts. They had fixed up a car to be easily stolen and left it on a street. Sure enough, a young urban [get the PC reference?] thug approached the car, looked around, got in and drove off.
At a meeting on February 25 between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Iranians, UN inspectors confronted them with evidence of design studies for mounting nuclear warheads on long-range missiles. The Iranians denied any such aspirations.,
One block down the street, the pre-wired car shut off, the windows rolled up and the doors locked. The kid tried desperately to get out, but was stuck. When the cops came and unlocked him from his little four-wheeled cell, he had one thing to say:
Ahmadinejad and the Iranians must have seen the same episode.
However, according to Jane's Intelligence Review, the satellite photographs prove that the Kavoshgar 1 rocket was not part of a civilian space centre project but was consistent with Iran's clandestine programme to develop longer-range missiles.Rather than build a missile defense system and count on it to take out an incoming Kavoshgar, it would make much more sense to dispatch some B1's and B2's and take care of the facility right now.
The examination of the launch site revealed that it was part of a large and growing complex “with very high levels of security and recent construction activity”. It was clearly “an important strategic facility”, Dr Forden said.
The former Iraq weapons inspector said that Iran was benefiting from the North Korean missile programme and following its designs. The Taepodong 1 consisted of a liquid-propellant Nodong (like the Shahab 3) first stage, a liquid-propellant Scud second stage and a solid-propellant third stage.
“The production and testing facility next to the Kavoshgar 1 launch site would seem well positioned to contribute to this third stage,” Dr Forden said.
That President Bush is negotiating the missile deal instead would seem to be strong evidence against the Leftist portrait of the renegade cowboy, just looking for an excuse to start another war.
Here's what I'd like to see instead: Some quick and lethal strikes at training bases and depots used by the Iranians to support their war against us in Iraq, concurrent with some obvious over-flights of their nuclear and missile facilities by our long-range bombers.
Heck, let's even fire a cruise missile, have it pass about 30 feet over the nuke facility, turn and pass back over it again, then head back an ocean landing.
But President Bush should send them all some cowboy boots first.
So they can quake in them.