Iranian president Hassan Rouhani announced Saturday, Dec. 14, that a monkey had been successfully launched into space and brought back to earth safely aboard a home-made bio-capsule. The mission, dubbed Fargam (Auspicious), was the first to run on liquid fuel, he said, without providing any further technical information.
In January, when Iran sent its first monkey into space, American and Israeli strategists were caught by surprise by the technological capability displayed and alarmed by its military connotations.
Tehran’s space program, say debkafile’s military sources, demonstrates its missiles’ capability to reach any point on earth.
This is all the more disturbing in the context of the commitment Iran undertook under the interim nuclear accord it signed with the six powers on Nov. 24, to refrain from developing nuclear-capable missiles with ranges beyond 2,000 km. The space launch Saturday virtually nullified that commitment. It was evidently part of a carefully staged action to put the entire Geneva accord on the skids at the first opportunity. The Iranians followed through on it after the White House acted Thursday, Dec. 12, to tighten sanctions by adding new Iranian companies and individuals engaged in the oil industry to the list of targets.
Tehran had repeatedly threatened to break off nuclear negotiations if more sanctions were imposed.
And indeed, Friday, the Iranian delegation abruptly terminated the talks taking place with the six powers in Vienna, announcing they must return home for consultations.
The delegation left unfinished work on the practical applications of the Geneva accord and left before a date was set for the start of the six-month interim period and a freeze on their nuclear program.
Saturday, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman of Iran’s national security and foreign policy parliamentary commission, left no doubt that the Geneva track was in crisis.
He explained: “…the nation of Iran and MPs will not retreat on national benefits, the rights of Iran in the nuclear field, and the blood of the martyrs. It expects the nuclear negotiations to strictly defend the interests of the country.”
The Iranian lawmaker went on to say: “Surely the recent actions by the US in adding names of Iranian companies and institutions to the sanctions list is a clear violation of the Geneva nuclear agreement. [American] officials showed that they are not trustworthy.”
This walkout was accompanied by the cancellation of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s speaking tour in the West scheduled for next week.
The course Tehran has embarked on in the last 24 hours has three objectives:
1. To squeeze President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry into implementing the Geneva accord on Iran’s terms. The administration began releasing frozen Iranian assets after the signing in Geneva but neglected to write into the document a date for Iran to start implementing its part of the deal.
This omission has given Tehran additional leverage.
2. The space monkey’s launch symbolized Tehran’s determination to carry on with the military aspects of its nuclear program (which too were left out of the Geneva agreement) and the development of ballistic missiles able to carry nuclear warheads.
3. To show Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that his campaign for harsher sanctions against Iran – and the support it has gained in the US Congress – will lead nowhere. President Obama is given a choice between going back on the new sanctions or forgetting about a negotiated settlement of the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program.
Either way, Tehran doesn’t have much to lose. The promise to freeze its nuclear program, for the six months of negotiations on a comprehensive agreement, was left up in the air in Vienna and the Islamic Repubic's legitimate right to continue enrichment has been undersigned by six world powers.
On Friday, debkafile’s Iranian sources disclosed how the US and UK gave way to Iran on ballistic missiles able to reach any part of the Middle East.