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Iran in Space

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad read the countdown, the audience chanted “God is greatest,” and Iran launched its first rocket into space yesterday.

Or so Iranian state media said. It’s not quite clear just how high the research rocket, Kavoshgar-1, went. A parachute came drifting down to the launch site well before the rocket could have made it into the heavens, suggesting that all did not go according to plan. Iran, after a similar announcement last February, appears to have failed to reach orbital height. In any event, the country now says that the rocket will carry its first research satellite, whose name translates as “Hope,” by next March.

Putting a satellite into orbit is not exactly the same thing as landing a warhead in Washington, but today’s development is nonetheless a matter of concern for “Zionists,” “Great Satans,” and other members of the international community. Even though Iran insists that its rocket program is peaceful, much of the technology has obvious military applications.

Kavoshgar-1’s flight, therefore, underscores the urgency of having a missile defense system in place. On Friday, Poland said that it had agreed in principle to host ten interceptor missiles as a part of the American-sponsored plan. Condoleezza Rice, after meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, said that the United States would be willing to help Poland with its air defenses, Warsaw’s key requirement for participating in Washington’s missile defense plans. Discussions with the government of the Czech Republic, where radar for the system would be based, are also moving in the right direction.

Although negotiations with the two European nations are on a positive track, we have to remember that missile defense is only a stopgap solution. Throughout history, improved weapons have always defeated defensive systems. And when it comes to shooting down intercontinental ballistic missiles, even 99 percent success rates can result in catastrophic losses.

So our long-term goal should not be defending against Tehran but disarming it. We can offer incentives, impose sanctions, threaten destruction, or promote regime change. We can employ peaceful methods or forceful ones, and we can act on our own or as part of a broad coalition. Yet whatever we do, we have to make sure that mullahs in Tehran never have the ability to launch missiles with nuclear tips.


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