France said today that Kavoushgar-1 (Explorer-1) space rocket launched by Iran on Monday was in fact a long-range missile not intended to deliver a satellite into space.
Although the terms missile and rocket are at times used interchangeably, but a rocket is normally a vehicle that carries a payload (like a satellite) into earth orbit or sub-orbit, but a missile is a weapon carrying a warhead (or warheads) for striking a target. A missile can also be launched into and travel through an orbit to reach its final destination, as is the case with long-rage ballistic missiles.
The French assertion that Kavoushgar-1 could have been a ballistic missile adds to the concerns raised by both US and Russia after its launch. Russia said the launch raised the suspicion that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon program.
French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani said in Paris today that Iran’s new missile did not have “extra-atmospheric capabilities” as claimed and was a “further source of concern” [Reuters, 8 February].