Barak: Increase Iran sanctions over satellite

Defense minister says launch proves military ability; expert: It puts Europe in range of Iranian nukes.

iran satellite 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
iran satellite 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The international community must increase its economic pressure on Iran in response to the launching of an Iranian satellite, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday. "The Iranian satellite is a technological achievement for the Iranians and a first step towards proving their military and intelligence capabilities," Barak said. "This is another reason for the international community to tighten and increase sanctions against Iran." Iran used a multistage rocket in Monday's launch, putting a small and rudimentary communications satellite into space, according to a US counterproliferation official and another government official on Tuesday. Iran used the Safir, a modified Shahab-3 rocket that normally has a range of under 1,280 kilometers, to launch the satellite. Iran failed in a multistage Safir launch attempt in August and now has overcome whatever technical problem felled that test. "Having a multistage rocket is a big step forward in rocket technology," said Jonathan McDowell, a space program analyst at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "The bigger context is they've done this under a sanctions regime, very much on their own. They proved that it's really not that hard to get a satellite up." David Albright, a nuclear expert with the Institute for Science and International Security, said the rocket used did not have intercontinental reach and does not appear big enough to hold a nuclear warhead. But it does speak to Iranian intentions. "It says they are persistent and continue to work away on developing a missile capability," he said. "This should remind us you can't forget about Iran and their nuclear program."