Trump’s tweet raises questions: should this photo be shared?

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump reported on Twitter that the United States was not involved in the failed launch of an Iranian space rocket on Thursday. He added a detailed photo of the accident – so precise that some speculate that the picture was not intended for the eyes of the general public.

On Tuesday, a rocket exploded just before launch at the Iranian space center near Semnan, in the north. According to Iran, the missile should send a satellite into space. It is the second time the launch has failed.

Three days later, President Trump threw oil on the fire with a seemingly sweet tweet. “The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch,” he wrote. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”


The photo that the president added attracted a lot of attention. The image shows a detailed overview of the location of the failed launch and the damage caused. According to CNN, it could well be that the photo is confidential.

To begin with, it seems as if the president himself took a snapshot of the image, which can be seen in the reflection in the middle. That seems to prove that Trump did not immediately have the permission to post a digital version of the photo on Twitter.

Besides, the photo would show much more details than other images that were shared in the environment in the past. Dave Burbach, professor at the American Naval War College, states that “the quality of the image is better than what the US wanted to demonstrate to the public before.”

According to former CIA agent John Sipher, the image corresponds to a “standard confidential product”. “If he just took that and put it on Twitter, then that’s not good news,” it sounds.

Tweet Trump raises questions: should this photo be shared?
©AFP – Other images of the failed launch are less clear.

According to him, it is also possible that the president first saw a better – and more sensitive – photo and then asked for a less confidential image to share. By the way, other pictures of the Iranian space center are available, but they are much less detailed.

Ballistic rockets

Trump himself denies that there is anything wrong with his tweet. “I wish Iran well. They had a big problem. I distributed a photo, I definitely had the right to it,” he tells CNN.

The United States is keeping a close eye on activities around the Iranian space center. It is speculated that the operations may be part of the development of ballistic missiles – something that Iran denies. After all, the space program would use the same technology that is needed to launch such rockets over long distances.

CNN, The New York Times
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