In February Iran orbited a small satellite. This event matters because it demonstrates the ability to launch a long-range missile with at least sufficient range to hit anywhere in Europe. The incident recalls the Soviet
success in launching Sputnik in 1957. Most people saw the launch as a wake-up call: the Soviet Union really was something more than a brainless steamroller. Suddenly statistics showing vast numbers of engineers and scientists graduated each year seemed menacing, and the U.S. government began giving scholarships and other aid to the American scientific establishment in hopes of closing what was seen as a frightening gap. The equivalent reaction to the Iranian feat would be the shock that a country dismissed as third world could produce such modern technology.
In both cases, shock would be somewhat belated. Well before Sputnik, the Soviets were demonstrating first-class military aircraft designs such as the MiG-15. Well before the satellite, the Iranians were claiming all sorts of domestically produced military technology. The Soviet demonstrations were probably much more valid, as much of Iran's supposedly home-grown technology really is not.