New ballistic missile site raises tensions in Iran

Located in the Iranian town of Shahrud, situated northeast of Tehran, satellite imagery of the site shows a nearly complete launch facility, replete with launch pad and tower, a pre-launch zone and a command and control section, according to Reuters. 

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Tehran claims the new launch site is one of three facilities Iran is constructing to test and launch a new array of space satellites. 

However, "imagery analysis of the Shahrud site suggests it will be a strategic facility used to test ballistic missiles, leaving the other two sites free to handle Iran's ambitious program of satellite launches," Matthew Clements, editor of Jane's Intelligence Review, told Reuters

Revelations of the Shahrud site comes days after 76 senators called upon the Obama administration take a harder line to stop Iran’s nuclear program, including weighing possible military options. 

Conservative lawmakers, including Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (R-Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (R-Fla.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteDems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Stale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Trump voter fraud commission sets first meeting outside DC MORE (R-N.H.), as well as prominent Democrats, including Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (N.Y.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick MORE (N.Y.) and Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiGore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere Bipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day MORE (Md.) demanded Obama to "bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process.”

"Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end," they said in a letter sent to the White House earlier this month. 

Iran’s regime insists its nuclear enrichment efforts are geared toward energy development and not weaponization. 

Washington and its allies argue the Iranian program clearly puts the country on the path to developing nuclear arms.

However, the White House has remained dedicated to a strategy of economic and political sanctions to bring Iran's nuclear program to heel. 

That said, the Pentagon has already drafted up plans for possible military action against Tehran, should the administration's strategy fail to stop Iran's nuclear program. 

However, Defense Department leaders continue to back the White House's approach of diplomatic and economic pressure to halt Tehran's nuclear work.