Missile Man-teghi takes charge of the Iran Space Agency
The Iran Space Agency (سازمان فضایی ایران) has a new man at the top! His name is Manouchehr Manteghi (منوچهر منطقی) and he'll be taking charge of Iran's space programme - the country's occasionally successful efforts to lob satellites, monkeys and space cats into orbit.
Manteghi has led a colourful life, to say the least. His past adventures are well worth recounting, because they neatly illustrate the extent to which leadership in Iran's defence and missile industries is basically a revolving door of IRGC cronies.
Which is not to say that Manteghi doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to pointy things that fly a long way and then explode. In fact, Manteghi's involvement with missiles goes back as far as literally anyone in the entire Islamic Republic of Iran.
Manteghi started his missile career during the 1980s war with Iraq. Diaries available online on former president Akbar Rafsanjani's glorified blog record Manteghi travelling on a trip to Libya in August of 1986 to secure TOW anti-tank missiles and Katyusha rockets. Manteghi is described in those diaries as an expert from the missile construction section of the Iran's Defence Industries Organisation (سازمان صنایع دفاع) and IRGC. That would make him one of Iran's very first missile gurus.
Clearly Manteghi established himself in that field pretty quickly, because by 1993, he was leading a delegation of missile specialists to North Korea for training. Launching SCUDs ain't easy, you see, and Iran was at that time buying them from the DPRK by the shipful.
Every senior executive needs a rounded CV, though, and Manteghi has done his time outside the military-industrial complex. In the mid-2000s, Manteghi was appointed head of the Iran Khodro (ایران خودرو) company, Iran's largest maker of cars and trucks. Not familiar with Iran Khodro? They're the famed makers of the Samand, the hottest ride going in Tehran:
Seems that Manteghi couldn't help himself from indulging in some WMD-related shenanigans while at the helm of Iran Khodro. In 2009, Manteghi was forced to deny reports that his company had illegally procured carbon fibre for Iran's UN-prohibited centrifuge programme. And in 2008, an Iran Khodro subsidiary was busted for manufacturing trucks for Iran's ballistic missile transporters and launchers.
There're yet more strings to Manteghi's bow than. Manteghi was also in charge of the country's aircraft manufacturer, the Iran Aviation Industries Organisation (سازمان صنایع هوایی ایران - IAIO) for ages. Just recently he was stitching up deals to buy satellite equipment and aircraft from Russia and selling Russia Iranian-made UAVs. What a guy!
Pretty much the only defence organisation that Manteghi has apparently never headed is SPND (سازمان پژوهش های نوین دفاعی), the sort-of-but-not-really nuclear weapons research outfit that has been barred from actually doing anything with nukes for years now. That's a good decision on Manteghi's part.
Iran's space launch activities have been fairly quiet of late, and perhaps Manteghi is the man to rev them up again. Seems that the missile boys in the IRGC are having all the fun at the moment...