General John Raymond and Vice President Mike Pence, Jan. 14, 2020 (AP /Steve Helber) General John Raymond and Vice President Mike Pence, Jan. 14, 2020 (AP /Steve Helber)
General John Raymond and Vice President Mike Pence

Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of the United States Space Force, said Iran’s so-called military satellite is nothing more than an out of control orbiting webcam.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The commander of the United States Space Force (USSF) played down Iranian claims that the Islamic Republic had successfully launched its first military spy satellite, calling it a “tumbling webcam in space.”

Last week Iran said it launched the Nour satellite into orbit and Iran’s top military commander Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri hailed the country’s first military satellite, saying that it will boost Iran’s defense and deterrence power, the FARS news agency reported.

However, the head of America’s recently created space force shot down that claim, saying Iran’s “military spy satellite” was nothing more than an out of control webcam.

“@US_SpaceCom continues to track 2 objects associated with space launch from Iran … Iran states it has imaging capabilities—actually, it’s a tumbling webcam in space; unlikely providing intel,” tweeted General Jay Raymond, who heads the US Space Command and has decades of experience in missile and satellite defense.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said the satellite successfully reached orbit, calling it the first military satellite ever launched by Tehran, AP reported. The launch came after a series of failures and was another event in ongoing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Earlier this year a US drone strike in Iraq killed one of Iran’s top generals, Qassem Soleimani, and Iranian navy boats have repeatedly harassed US Navy ships patrolling the waters of Iran to protect international shipping lanes. Iranian military leaders have repeatedly threatened a “crushing response to any US threat.”

The American military has long suspected Iran’s satellites program is a cover for its development program for intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the satellite launch reinforced those concerns, Military.Com reported.

Israel, for its part, routinely warns the world about the dangers of Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program, evidence of which Prime Minister Benjamin presented before the United Nations in 2019.

“The Iranian rocket that carried a military satellite into space is an immediate concern for the US military because of its implications for the regime’s plans to develop long-range missiles,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten said in a Space Force posting on its Facebook page.

“We watch every rocket and missile that comes off the face of the earth, and we track it and characterize it very precisely,” Hyten said.

An Iranian official downplayed American criticism that the Iranian launch was a clear violation of United Nations sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic that barred such military action, saying President Trump was trying divert public attention.

“We understand that in the hard conditions of coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the administration, its president in particular, finds no way forward except shifting the blame to divert the public opinion from their failure in fighting COVID-19 and also their international responsibilities,” Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee told the FARS news agency.

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