New York Times: A day after Iran declared that it had test fired a new rocket capable of launching a satellite, the country said Monday that it was prepared to help other Muslim countries send up satellites. But by then, Pentagon and military officials in Washington were concluding that the Iranian missile launching had been a failure.
The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI and THOM SHANKER
Published: August 19, 2008
TEHRAN — A day after Iran declared that it had test fired a new rocket capable of launching a satellite, the country said Monday that it was prepared to help other Muslim countries send up satellites. But by then, Pentagon and military officials in Washington were concluding that the Iranian missile launching had been a failure.
The officials, speaking on ground rules of anonymity to discuss intelligence reports, said the first stage of the missile performed successfully, but the second stage failed. It flew off wildly, they said, destroying the top of the missile and its nose cone.
Despite the mission’s overall failure, the launching was expected to add to Iran’s knowledge about how to improve its missile skills, and thus was still viewed as a worrisome development, according to the American officials.
A rocket that can carry a satellite to space could also deliver nuclear warheads, and the Iranian announcement added to concerns over whether Iran’s nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes, as Iran maintains.
Iran has made several recent claims of test firing missiles that Western analysts have said were inflated. Last month, Iran said it had launched a number of missiles, including at least one that Tehran said could reach Israel. Western analysts said that the war games featured more bluff than displays of real power and that the description of the largest missile was misleading.
On Sunday, Iranian television showed images of the nighttime rocket launching, and said a satellite had been sent into orbit. Iranian officials later said that only the rocket had been fired.
On Monday, Reza Taghipour, head of Iran’s space agency, told state television, “I am announcing now that Iran is ready to launch satellites of friendly Islamic countries into space.”
The minister of defense, Mostafa Mohammad Najar, dismissed concerns of Western nations, saying they wanted to prevent Iran’s scientific progress, the Fars news agency reported. He said Iran “would soon place its national satellite” into orbit, but he did not say when.
Nazila Fathi reported from Tehran, and Thom Shanker from Washington.