Iran and North Korea’s moves could make the USA go ahead with missile defense in Europe

Iran announced on February 3 that it has managed to launch a satellite. Meanwhile, North Korea is planning ICBM tests. The ballistic arms race being started by Iran and North Korea could make the United States abandon plans to curtail the deployment of missile defense system elements in Europe.

The Iranian government announced on February 3 that it has managed to launch a satellite into orbit. What’s more, the launch was performed with an Iranian rocket. At the same time, it was reported that North Korea is preparing to test the Taepodong-2 ICBM – capable of hitting targets on US territory. Military observers and analysts are saying that while the G8 nations battle the economic crisis, Third World countries are having an arms race – with potentially serious consequences.

The Safir rocket, carrying the Omid telecommunications satellite, was launched yesterday morning by the Iranian military. The General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces was the first to announce the success of the experimental launch. Although the Iranian government insists that its space program is entirely peaceful, specialists believe the successful launch indicates that Iran is on the verge of acquring long-range ballistic missiles.

Alexander Khramchikhin, chief analyst at the Political and Military Analysis Institute: “It’s hard to make an exact assessment of progress on Iran’s missile program – but the Safir launch indicates that building an ICBM is just a matter of time.” Khramchikhin points out that even as Iran announced its satellite launch, it was reported that North Korea is preparing to test its ICBM – with a range of 6,700 kilometers, sufficient to strike targets in the USA or Japan.

A Russian Defense Ministry source also expressed concern: “The increasing activity of Iran and North Korea in the rocket and missile field damages the arguments of those who oppose the American missile defense system. After all, the official story is that the bases in the Czech Republic and Poland would be aimed against Iranian or North Korean missiles – and now Tehran and Pyongyang are apparently trying to convince the rest of the world that such missiles do exist.” According to our source, if events develop unfavorable, the Obama Administration may abandon plans to call off deploying missile defense elements in Europe – although these plans seemed quite realistic until recently.

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