Yesterday, Iran announced it will put a human in space in 10 years. “Within the next six months to one year, the exact date of this mission will be determined,” said Reza Taghipour, the head of Tehran’s space agency. The announcement followed Saturday’s launch of a two-stage rocket. Tehran hailed the test as a success, saying it put a satellite into space. The United States, on Tuesday, disagreed. “The vehicle failed shortly after liftoff and in no way reached its intended position,” said an intelligence official speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It could be characterized as a dramatic failure.”
A failure? At Iran’s stage of rocket development, failures are almost as good as successes, because they provide valuable information. It appears, for example, that this week’s test showed Iran had learned much since its launch of the same rocket, named the Ambassador of Peace, in February. This time the second stage fired successfully, according to Charles Vick of GlobalSecurity.org. So we can conclude that Tehran is on its way to putting a satellite into orbit, an Iranian into space, and a warhead into a trajectory that can reach Great Satans and other enemies of the Islamic Republic.
“The Iranian development and testing of rockets is troubling and raises further questions about their intentions,” said Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, on Sunday. It’s a good sign that the Bush administration is paying attention, but is it actually intensifying diplomacy to stop the Iranians? So far, there is no visible sign that it is doing so. Understandably, the President has been preoccupied by Moscow’s invasion of Georgia. Yet the Russians are not only aggressors. They are, unfortunately, also proliferators of dangerous technologies. Taghipour, yesterday, noted that he is working with the Russians on his space program.
He is? Taghipour’s announcement should remind us we need a better Iranian policy, but, more important, we need a better Russia policy.