Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference on his visit for the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Last week, a missile that was destined to carry an Iranian satellite into orbit exploded on a launch pad. As best I can tell, the revelation was first made by a commercial satellite companies Planet Labs Inc. and Maxar Technologies after someone noticed smoke billowing from the launch pad
Satellite imagery shared with @NPR shows that an Iranian rocket appears to have exploded on the launch pad Thursday. This failure is the third this year. In January and February, #Iran attempted to launch two rockets, both of which failed to reach orbit. https://t.co/FjCz3jiA0N pic.twitter.com/HCYjltCnzv
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) August 30, 2019
As the word spread, Iran initially denied that any such thing had happened.
Then President Trump back…hard.
The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran. I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One. pic.twitter.com/z0iDj2L0Y3
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2019
Naturally, this was followed by all manner of idiots claiming that President Trump had divulged highly top secret reconnaissance capabilities without so much as a mother-may-I directed to the acting Director of National Intelligence. And (gasp) it also showed that we had satellites or drones over the launch space shortly after the explosion thereby signalling what we were behind it. (The same nimrods failed to mention that two commercial companies also had satellites over the launch site at about the same time.) In reality, the wording of the tweet suggests that someone familiar with the launch site terminology wrote it. This implies it is an intelligence operation. Secondly, without access top the actual image one doesn’t even know whether it is an actual image from a reconnaissance platform or simply a photoshop manipulation based on the existing commerical images. But such is the life of people who are in the late stages of TDS.
Now the spokesman for Iran’s prime minister has responded in a most petulant and butthurt type of way.
Iran acknowledged for the first time on Monday that a rocket at its Imam Khomeini Space Center exploded after satellite photos showed the blast last week, with an official saying a technical malfunction during a test caused the explosion.
The explosion marked the third failure involving a rocket at the Iranian center, which has raised suspicions of sabotage in Iran’s space program.
However, Rabiei dismissed that, saying that “this has been a technical matter and a technical error. Our experts unanimously say so.”
“The explosion happened at the launchpad and no satellite had yet been transferred to the launchpad,” Rabiei said. “It happened at a test site, not at the launch site.”
As there was no reason to mention the destruction of the satellite, the obvious inference is that the satellite was destroyed. And you’d always cart a satellite out to a test site, and not to a launch site, because the don’t teach logic in Iranian schools.
Rabiei criticized Trump’s decision to tweet about the rocket explosion.
“We don’t understand why the U.S president tweets and posts satellite pictures with excitement. This is not understandable,” he said. “Maybe this is because lack of Iran-related subjects that they raise such issues.”
Bottom line. Iran is embarrassed that their attempt to master 1950s technology has failed. They didn’t realize the world knew. They really didn’t like it when Trump focused international attention on the failure and, given Iran’s craptacular history with maintaining anything resembling security of their most classified facilities (see Stuxnet and Mossad’s making off with their nuclear research archive), hinting that the explosion was not entirely accidental. This comes on the heels of Iran’s nuisance campaign of harassing merchant vessels in the Straits of Hormuz being shut down once the US and Great Britain decided to pay attention to it and their Hezbollah proxy getting humiliated several times a week by the Israelis. On the whole you’re seeing nothing that indicates that Iran is not a regional power of the cusp of a catastrophic collapse of its ability to project either power or influence. And that makes it exceedingly dangerous for the time being.