Do Satellite Photos Show Iran Ballistic Missile Facility?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by KevinB, Apr 13, 2008.

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  1. Do Satellite Photos Show Iran Ballistic Missile Facility?

    New report says site is being used to develop missiles with 4,000 mile range.

    By Arthur Bright

    11/04/08 "CSM" -- - A new report by The Times of London says that satellite photographs of a site in Iran indicate the location is being used to develop a ballistic missile that could reach most of continental Europe.

    The Times writes that the photographs show the launch site of a Kavoshgar 1 rocket that Iran tested on February 4. Tehran claimed that the rocket was intended to further a nascent Iranian space program, but The Times says that the photos suggest otherwise.

    Analysis of the photographs taken by the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite four days after the launch has revealed a number of intriguing features that indicate to experts that it is the same site where Iran is focusing its efforts on developing a ballistic missile with a range of about 6,000km (4,000 miles).

    A previously unknown missile location, the site, about 230km southeast of Tehran, and the link with Iran's long-range programme, was revealed by Jane's Intelligence Review after a study of the imagery 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.

    The Times adds that the rocket launched from the facility in February was based on Iran's Shahab 3B missile, which is in turn based on North Korea's Nodong missile. Geoffrey Forden, a member of the UN team monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in 2002 and 2003, noted that while the test rocket did not indicate any significant advances in Iran's missile technology, the launch site had "very high levels of security and recent construction activity" and appeared to be "an important strategic facility."

    If the Iranian facility is indeed developing a long-range ballistic missile, it would explain NATO's decision last week to move ahead with the missile shield program supported by the US. The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that the Bush administration scored a key success by persuading NATO to approve the missile shield, which is meant to protect against missiles like those that Iran is linked to.

    NATO members all supported the US position on missile-shield defense, which is to be deployed in the Czech Republic and Poland. "There is a threat ... and allied security must be indivisible in the face of it," read the statement on missile defense.

    But Iran has denied any hostile intent behind its rocket program. While Tehran has not yet commented on the Times report, after the February test of the Kavoshgar 1 rocket it stated its intent to use the technology for launching satellites, reported The New York Times.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... said on state-run television: "We need to have an active presence in space. We witness today that Iran has taken its first step in space very firmly, precisely and with awareness."

    Iran has said that it wants to put satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters and to improve telecommunications, as well as for security reasons.

    Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said Iran would launch its domestically made satellite, called Omid, meaning Hope, in June, Fars News reported.

    But US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the launch "troubling," noting that "the kinds of technologies and capabilities that are needed in order to launch a space vehicle for orbit are the same kinds of capabilities and technologies that one would employ for long-range ballistic missiles."

    Much of the concern of both the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, stems from evidence found on a laptop stolen by an Iranian in 2004 and turned over to US intelligence services. Among other documents on the laptop, investigators found "drawings on modifying Iran's ballistic missiles in ways that might accommodate a nuclear warhead," reported The Washington Post in February. But the problem is proving that the documents are legitimate.

    U.S. intelligence considers the laptop documents authentic but cannot prove it. Analysts cannot completely rule out the possibility that internal opponents of the Iranian leadership could have forged them to implicate the government, or that the documents were planted by Tehran itself to convince the West that its program remains at an immature stage....

    British intelligence, asked for a second opinion, concurred last year that the documents appear authentic. German and French officials consider the information troubling, sources said, but Russian experts have dismissed it as inconclusive. IAEA inspectors, who were highly skeptical of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, have begun to pursue aspects of the laptop information that appear to bolster previous leads.

    "There is always a chance this could be the biggest scam perpetrated on U.S. intelligence," one U.S. source acknowledged. "But it's such a large body of documents and such strong indications of nuclear weapons intent, and nothing seems so inconsistent."

    Despite the possibility of Iran developing a long-range ballistic missile in time, Mr. Forden says that they likely still have a long way to go., a blog on WMDs and national security, cites Forden's observations about the flaws revealed by the February launch .

    Iran's February 4th launch of a Shahab-3 just keeps on getting more and more interesting; that is if you are interested in just how good of a missile the Shahab/No'dong is. Video from Iran's television show that there is a failure of the missile's thrust vector control system nineteen seconds into its powered flight. At that point, there is a brief flaring at the very end of the missile and an object is seen flying off for several seconds, until it leaves the video's frame as the camera continues to follow the missile. Tellingly, it doesn't just drop off the missile but is given quite a transverse boost.

    Forden says that the debris indicates that the missile's graphite jet vanes, used to steer the rocket in flight, are being "eaten away" by the rocket exhaust. Such a problem can knock a missile severely off course, he adds.

    So what does this mean for missile proliferators in general and Syria and Iran (and North Korea since they are all involved in the development of these missiles) in particular? It means that they are still having a hard time producing graphite tough and pure enough to be used in large missiles. It also indicates that a top priority for their missile engineers will be to develop other thrust vector control mechanisms.
  2. Is this the start of the 'reasoning' for the start of Operation Persian Freedom?

    I thought the WMD sketch was old hat and considered not to work - or have the relevent Governments decided that they have got away with it once, so worth another try.
  3. Sounds like it, doesn't it?
  4. So nothing for us to worry about for a bit then. :)

    Well from what I understand there's practically very little technical difference between an IRBM/ICBM and a rocket that you'd use to put a satellite into orbit. It's one of the true dual use situations.
  5. Do you think Bush and Brown realise if they start a war with Iran it won't be over as quickly as Operation Desert Fox was in Iraq?

    Or do you think it's going to take Thousands of Allied casualties and the very real prospect of Chemical weapons attacks before the two Bs notice?
  6. They should both know, seeing how things are going in Iraq.
    At least Bush shall be gone in 6 months or so - that said, McCain would be worse.
  7. This is rather old hat. The Iranians have been buying IRBM's from the Russians and North Korea, big deal. Yes, they want a space program of sorts, both for its practical benefits and the "glory" it will heap upon Iran from around the Islamic world. Iran is trying to step up as a regional superpower and this is but one part of this process.
    If they did develop an ICBM it would not be much of a threat to Europe or the USA because of the anti missile system being developed and for a missile threat to be a genuine you need more than 3 or 4.
    I'm keeping my eyes on there IRBM's and seeing where they go with them in terms of numbers.
  8. Oi, KevB, what is PIRA/SFs position in regard to Iranian Ballistic Missile Facility and is that position made public to the people who you collected money from whilst volunteering with NORAID to supply hard cash to fund the Republican slaughter campaigne in Northern Ireland and elsewhere?
  9. So what's to stop them building an even dozen or so and simply swarming the missile defence? All you need is the same number as they've got interceptor rockets deployed plus one and they're fucked. Which is generally why the whole concept has left me rather unimpressed.
  10. To build a significant number of ICBM's would be very hard to disguise and rather difficult to engineer. Look at the problems the Iranians are having with there space program.
    The Soviets had a big problem with Star Wars knowing that it would negate the deterrent affect of there nuclear arsenal.
    It would be difficult for the Iranians to swamp the system and there are more layers to it than just this one launcher.
  11. All true. And none of it will rule out this being used as an excuse for Operation Bomb The B@stards... :roll:
  12. They could indeed build enough rockets to do that, but that doesn't detract from the simple truth that in the event of the Iranians launching such an attack, Tehran and selected other targets get converted into parking lots a few minutes later, courtesy of Mr. MIRV and his friend Trident II. MAD anyone?
  13. I'm not sure MAD works with people who believe they are going to get 76 virgins in paradise. I'm not saying that Iran on the whole believe that, but a theocracy could end up with enough people who believed it in the right places.

    Edit: Ahem, I mean wrong places.
  14. If I were taking this thread seriously, I would have said that it seems a little naive to suggest that the only thing preventing the development of a practical ICBM system is the lack of suitable composite material, when there are so many other alternatives (titanium included).

    An interesting and unanswered question. How would we feel, for example, if some of these muslim states started rattling their collection tins under the noses of, say, the Hindus or the Sikhs, or even (heaven forbid) the Chinese in just the same way that Noraid were (and still are) trying to do with Americans?
  15. you can see the missile silos at Tabriz on google sure if you look for long enough you will see what you want to see.