Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Iran Launched Satellite, Probably: and North Korea's Preparing for Launch

"Video: Iran Launches Satellite, Allegedly (Updated)"
Noah Shachtman, Danger Room, Wired (February 3, 2009)

"Iran says it's sent a domestically-built satellite into orbit. It's a troubling development, if true. Much of the gear and the know-how behind a space launch can also be used for ballistic missiles.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Tehran has a long, colorful history of trying to BS the world about their military capabilities....

Couldn't have put it better myself. I think the Wired blog's hit the nail on the head: News from Iran, even news with pictures, should be taken with a grain of salt.

This time, though, the pictures are videos - which I'd think are tougher to fake. And, as the Wired blog points out, two objects have been tracked in orbit, right about where the Iranian satellite and upper stage might be.

Looks like this time the news from Iran actually happened, as described.

Versions of the Iranian video show up quite a few places on YouTube, including the Associated Press clip used by Wired:

"Raw Video: Iran Test Launches Space Rocket"
AssociatedPress, YouTube (February 3, 2009)
video (0:54)

"Iran's state radio says the country has successfully sent its first domestically made satellite into orbit...."

"Fars News Coverage of Safir-e-Omid Launch"
armscontrolwonk, YouTube (February 3, 2009)
video (1:10)

Traditional news media ran rather more conventional headlines: Old-school news media seem to be a bit cautious this time. I think they may remember the doctored photo they ran as the real deal last summer: "Iran's Missile Test, ah, Enhanced with Digital Fakery"
(July 10, 2008)

North Korea Prepares to Launch: Not the Most Reassuring News

Looks like North Korea is getting ready to test-fire a missile. They could be ready in a couple of months. Or, they could be towing a large cylindrical object around, just to impress people.

This is a little unsettling, since the North Korean missile seems to be an upgraded version of their Taepodong 2. The thing could have a range of 4,150 miles.

Which makes Alaska a possible target. And Japan. And heavily populated parts of China. Other countries could be affected, too: check it out on a globe.

This isn't good news, but it's possible that North Korea is just getting ready to shake down America and other countries for cash, cargo, and concessions.

More, at "North Korea Seen Preparing for Long-Range Missile Launch" (Global Security Newswire (February 3, 2009)) and "North Korea has second long-range missile launch site: analyst" (AFP via GlobalSecurity.org (September 10, 2008)).

One More Thing: North Korean Nukes

There's a good possibility that North Korea has enough fissile material to make a half-dozen nuclear bombs. Actually putting the things together is another matter, but I wouldn't underestimate Dear Leader's country.

Pleasant dreams?


Brigid said...

Well, the economy and the possibility of losing one's job is certainly more immediate than what's going on half a world away.

(And you're probably referring to turbans. Not everyone who's a threat wears one and not everyone who wears one is a threat.)

Anonymous said...

If you read my blog you know I despise Iran.

We need to stop Iran from these acts. I'm sick of America and the UN giving Iran a slap on the wrist saying "Oh you better stop this or else"

Dude! Where do we draw the line at? How far do we test Iran? And yes I understand the economic battle is real and needs to be addressed but we can not forget the war on terror we can not forget the possibility of another 9/11
And unless we take the right steps immediately we will lose this war on terror because of our economic situation. No Bailout or Stimulus can prevent that.
We are losing money and America is struggling for even good payment for troops I believe.

Anonymous said...

Do you believe in miracles?

Brian H. Gill said...

Thankful Paul,

As a matter of fact, yes.

But what, if anything, does that have to do with this post?

Brian H. Gill said...

Politics and the Future,

"Dude! Where do we draw the line at?"

Trying to answer that question is one reason why I am so profoundly grateful that someone else is sitting behind the desk where the buck stops.

A conventional land invasion of Iran would be, if not impossible, at least extremely expensive in terms of lives and time. It is not, as far as I can tell, an option.

It is, barely, possible that America has burrowing nuclear weapons which could destroy the hardened - and partially underground - weapons facilities that Iran has.

It's somewhat less likely that people outside Iran know where all of them are.

Then there's the international political situation. America is not all-powerful, and does have to take other countries into account.

Besides, that's the way America works - as with the two dozen or so nations that 'unilaterally' invaded Iraq a few years ago.

Brian H. Gill said...


Red, White, and Blue Patriot's reference to "those damn towelheads" indicates a rather regrettable attitude. Understandable, perhaps, if a person is of pure blood, and forced to share America with Micks, Wops, and other undesirables.

Perhaps because I'm a Paddy myself, I have trouble understanding such an attitude.

Anonymous said...

"A conventional land invasion of Iran would be, if not impossible, at least extremely expensive in terms of lives and time. It is not, as far as I can tell, an option"

I agree it is not possible. America is not as high and mighty as we used to be. I sometimes wonder if Iran is just flexing it's muscles not actually as powerful as it says. but after all they do have enough materiel to build a bomb. I'm not suggesting a land invasion but rather an Air strike in Tehran. or anything for that matter besides telling this very Islamic nation to stop their nuclear production or else. when we have been saying that forever and they are not stopping, where do we draw the line? do we wait until it is too late for Israel and us? do we wait until all the other middle east nations are living in fear of Iran because they are growing stronger? do we have to listen to another Death to America and Israel cry before we do something?
will we let Iran aid Hamas while Israel is getting attacked and the war in the middle east only gets worse because of Hamas?
where od we draw the line at? I want ideas I want suggestions.
lives would be enormous if we invaded or declared war on Iran. but how many lives might we lose if we wait too long?

Brian H. Gill said...

Politics and the Future,

Actually, I don't think America - or any other country was ever "as high and mighty as we used to be." Memory and nostalgia can alter perceptions.

As emotionally satisfying as an air strike in Tehran might be, I doubt that it would reduce Iran as a threat to America.

First, the nuclear processing facilities do not seem to be in or under, or anywhere near, Tehran. Even wiping Tehran from the face of the earth would not, as far as I've read, affect the equipment or materials involved in Iran's nuclear program.

Second, from the limited contact I've had with Iranians, I've gotten the impression that people from that part of the world are at least as touchy about being attacked as Americans are.

Third, although destroying Tehran would probably force Iran to find a new set of leaders, I don't think it would tend to encourage the formation of a peace-loving, pro-western government. It seems more likely that whoever stepped into the power vacuum would be a bit peeved with America. And even Iranians who aren't happy with the Ayatollahs might not mind launching a counter-attack.

A thorough, effective, strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would reduce or eliminate Iran's nuclear threat. Such a strike may be necessary.

When? Sometime a few years ago may prove to be the 'correct' answer.

Assuming that, as seems likely, Iran will not have nuclear weapons for several years, I think it's much more urgent to help Iraq and other nations in the region get established.

Which gets into geopolitics that would take longer than I've got to think about and discuss.

I know: I didn't come up with a hard-and-fast answer. Without more information than I'm every likely to get, I can't.

Finally, the fact that the American president has to make decisions like this is one reason that I don't mind the differences between what the person in the Oval Office makes, and what I do.

That kind of responsibility, I don't need.

Anonymous said...

"Assuming that, as seems likely, Iran will not have nuclear weapons for several years, I think it's much more urgent to help Iraq and other nations in the region get established"

Iran is not as far as way as we would all like to think, hear me out here. I believe Iran is in fact almost ready to finish the nukes. And Russia will only make matters worse, Russia is going to Aid Iran and they will together plan a strike against Israel. Russia may have publicly froze a deal with Iran over weapons but they are far from finished with Iran. I believe Americans are getting in the mind set of Iran will never finish their nuke. if think this then it will be too late. why should we let them have time to finish their nukes?
Iraq still needs focus but unless we stop support from Islamic countries into Iraq and every other nation we are trying to help we will never win the war. Support needs to be cut off, I am glad you and I are having this discussion, I have never be involved in a real debate before. this is more of a discussion then a debate(:
but the truth is this,
No government in the world can stop a religion that has followers willing to die for their cause, your point of a vacuum in the Iranian government is correct in my opinion. We can not stop Islam unless we address the core of it, that why we have these problems in the first place(: if you are Islamic then there is good chance you hate America or at least Christians. (Yes I know I know their are innocent Muslims in the world) You can not stop Islamic government unless you form a new government from the inside out thus causing international problems that I have no time to get into. do you understand what I am saying? if we are going to strike Iranian nuke plants then the time is now before it is too late and before they -ledge more support to Hamas and other terrorist groups. in order to help Establish a firm government in middle east nations we must address the nations biggest enemy's.if we neglect the terrorist groups then we will lose this war.
I know I sound all out trigger happy or something, but that is not the case I am simply expressing my views, only tired of trying to make peace with the terrorist. And with Radical Islam.
I want peace as well, but in order to have peace you have address the threats at it's core. both Military and politically. We can not rush in and kill every radical Islamic leader we must form a team of nations who will address this issue.

Anonymous said...

one more note,
here is an Article just published by Jerusalem post,
check it out,
it adds to my other post.

Brian H. Gill said...

Politics and the Future,


I don't, generally, make extensive replies to comments - so if I seem to be ignoring a visitor or a comment: sorry about that, but I'm a sporadic correspondent at best. Nothing personal.

Anonymous said...

perfectly fine,
I was beginning to wonder if maybe you could come up with another good point(: just kidding.
Thanks for hearing me out, I enjoyed your replies and comments and love your blog!

Brian H. Gill said...

Politics and the Future,

Thanks for the good words. This matter of Iran, peaceful (?) nuclear programs, and development of IRBMs and ICBMs isn't going to go away. A more recent post: "Iran Has Heavy Metal for Bomb, No Bomb: Yet" (March 1, 2009).

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.