Late in January the Iranians announced that they were about to launch their first satellite. Since it takes at least an intermediate-range ballistic missile (range about 2,500 nautical miles) to launch a satellite, the announcement was widely seen as a claim that Iran had perfected a long-range missile (or, perhaps, had bought the North Korean two-stage missile used in an unsuccessful or semi-successful satellite launch some years ago). To the mass of Middle Easterners, an Iranian satellite would be seen as proof of modernity and success, in the same way many people saw Sputnik 50 years ago. However, the more sophisticated would have understood the connection with long-range missile warfare, again much as Sputnik was seen by many governments.
World Naval Developments: Posturing in the Middle East?
By Norman Friedman, Ph.D.