This New Scientist article on Iran’s missile brings up some good points. First off, as mentioned in the news article here, the space launch capability is quite obviously a cover for developing a ballistic missile. If you can put an object in space, you can hit any point on Earth. New Scientist also alludes to something I read elsewhere, though, that any nuclear weapon developed by Iran will likely be too big and bulky for missile delivery. That will take some years of tests and improvements to miniaturize and work on reliability before their warheads can be launched on a missile platform.
The second thing that New Scientist mentions is their need for reconnaissance capabilities to keep an eye on Israel’s capabilities. Any recon aircraft will quickly be shot down, but a satellite would let Iran see things they want to know.
As for the anonymous poster who worried about India, years of possession of nuclear weapons have calmed fears that they will act irresponsibly with them. That’s not the best way to find out if a country will behave though. India is rather politically benign, versus, Iran, as LordDilly pointed out. Moreover, India is one of the fastest growing world economies and is totally dependant on globalization for its growth. There was a fantastic example of how India backed away from a hostile encounter with Pakistan a few years ago because it’s economy plummetted due to nervous foreign investors in The World is Flat. India values its connections, especially economic connections with the rest of the world too much to be likely to nuke anyone anytime soon. It’s just bad for business, and right now business if very good for India.
Iran, on the other hand, seems to enjoy being on the fringe, and also glorify suicide bombers—kind of scary when you match that up with a nuclear capability.
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