18 AUGUST 2008: Yesterday Iran sent into earth orbit it's "Safir" (Emissary/Ambassador) satellite launch vehicle (SLV). According to some uncorroborated reports the sudden launch caught Western intelligence agencies, the U.S. and Israel in particular, by surprise.
The launch vehicle is known as the IRILV (Islamic Republic of Iran Launch Vehicle) and is assessed by many to be an Iranian Shahab 5/6 ICBM with a projected range of 5,000 to 7,000 km (3,000-4,300 miles). As a suborbital ICBM this launch vehicle places all major European capital cities easily within range of an Iranian nuclear warhead, and, theoretically, as an orbital warhead launch vehicle virtually any location on earth could be targeted by a programed de-orbiting of the warhead. The Iranian payload launched on Sunday is reported to be orbiting the earth at an altitude of 400 miles once every four hours.
The launch was conducted on the birthday of the 8th century Shi'a Imam Mahdi who disappeared as a boy and who the current regime is committed to hastening his return as their Islamic messiah. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad is reported to have personally conducted the launch countdown.