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Here’s another piece of unpleasant news that we probably didn’t need to see in the midst of the rest of the crises currently threatening to set the world on fire. New satellite images reveal that Iran is preparing to attempt another space launch, supposedly hoping to put some satellites of their own into orbit. Allowing the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism to install their own spy satellites in orbit is a frightening enough proposition, considering what they would likely do with that data. But if they can put a satellite into space reliably, then they can put other things up there as well, such as ICBMs. But short of ordering provocative missile strikes on their launch facility, there may not be much anyone can do about it. (Associated Press)

Iran appeared to be readying for a space launch Tuesday as satellite images showed a rocket on a rural desert launch pad, just as tensions remain high over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The images from Maxar Technologies showed a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of frequent recent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.

One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image showed the rocket apparently on the tower.

I’m not saying that Iran doesn’t actually want to put up some satellites. I’m sure they do. But they really want something that can carry a miniaturized nuke out of the atmosphere and a good distance around the planet. Keep in mind that this is happening only a short time after we learned that Iran had disconnected all of the IAEA security cameras in their nuclear facilities. In that same announcement, we were informed that analysts now conclusively believe that Iran has enough weapons-grade fuel to make a bomb.

Of course, having enough fuel to make a nuclear bomb isn’t the same as being able to make one that actually works. (Just ask Kim Jong-un.) And even then, the miniaturization process is allegedly vastly more challenging from a technical perspective. So the odds of Iran launching a nuclear ICBM at anyone tomorrow are still remote. But that situation won’t last forever. If they are allowed to continue the development process they’re going to get there sooner or later.

The good news is that Iran traditionally hasn’t been very good at the launch process. They attempted another launch in March of this year that appeared to have failed spectacularly. Sattelite images showed the launch pad covered in what appeared to be fire damage and pieces of the rocket gantry burned and mangled on the edge of the pad. But as with the question of ICBMs, they are closer than they have ever been and they’ll get there eventually if they’re not stopped.

So who is going to stop them? Iran’s Mullahs have laughed in the face of the Biden administration’s efforts to cut a deal and proceeded with their plans anyway. As I already mentioned here, a couple of covert missile strikes could set them back a long way, but it would be immediately obvious that either America or Israel had done it. Would Iran respond on a war footing to such a strike? And who in the new Axis of Evil would back them up if they did?

The whole situation is a mess. And for the time being, the problem is on Joe Biden’s plate. Let’s hope he’s up to the task of handling it.