Iranian state media reported on Thursday that Iran had successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite into space, reviving concerns about its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program.
The launch of the “Simorgh” rocket was first reported by YJC.ir, a website linked to Iranian state television, the Associated Press reported. Critics “fear the same technology could be used to produce long-range missiles” capable of hitting the United States, the AP noted.
In an analysis written last year, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis explained that the technology employed by Iran’s Simorgh rocket appears to be the same used in North Korea’s Unha SLV series, which the U.S. intelligence community has concluded “could be used for an ICBM-class vehicle” capable of carrying nuclear weapons to the U.S.
Last year, following the launch of two ballistic missiles, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, boasted that Israel was within the range of Iran’s missiles. “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance,” he said.
Iran has continued testing ballistic missiles since implementing the 2015 nuclear deal, in defiance of the United Nations Security Council resolution that formalized the accord. Under Security Council resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
The bipartisan Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, which targets Iran’s non-nuclear aggression, passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 18 to 3 in May. The bill seeks to impose sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, its support for terror, and its human rights violations.