Iran’s mysterious decision to pull a Safir missile off the launch pad, after days of preparation for a test launch, has prompted speculation from analysts about everything from technical problems to Iran’s fear of the Trump administration’s response.
Fox News broke the story on Tuesday:
New satellite imagery from Feb. 3, obtained exclusively by Fox News from ImageSat International and verified by U.S. officials, showed Iran preparing a Safir for launch. That missile is the type Iran has previously used to put a satellite into space.
It has been two years since Iran has launched a Safir into space, according to officials. But there has been a flurry of activity on an Iranian launchpad that U.S. officials have been watching closely, since the launch of a ballistic missile from the site last week.
In a surprising about face, Fox News learned Tuesday morning that Iran’s missile had been removed from the launchpad. It was not immediately clear why.
This is the same launch facility used for a medium-range ballistic missile test in late January, prompting international condemnation and a furious response from the Trump administration, in which National Security Adviser Mike Flynn said Iran has been “put on notice.”
According to the Fox report, Iran initially responded to the Trump administration by defiantly preparing the Safir missile for launch, but now it has scrubbed the launch and removed the missile for some reason.
“Why they removed it from the launch pad this time could be for a number of reasons, including they noticed a technical deficiency before launch, were experimenting with a new launch pad or procedure or got skittish following the US response to last week’s missile test. I think it’s too difficult to tell based on what we know,” Iranian missile expert Patrick Megahan of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Business Insider.