Iran claims to put imaging satellite into orbit, stops short of giving details

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Iran said that it has successfully launched an imaging satellite into space amid tensions with West that fears that the country’s space technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran’s communication minister Isa Zarepour said that the Noor-3 satellite had been put in an orbit 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the Earth’s surface, without informing when the launch took place.

Iran Satellite Launch: An Iranian flag flutters.(Reuters)
Iran Satellite Launch: An Iranian flag flutters.(Reuters)

Isa Zarepour said that the aerospace arm of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard had carried out the launch. The Revolutionary Guard operates its own space program and military infrastructure along with Iran’s regular armed forces. Iran launched its first satellite into space in April 2020 which the head of US Space Command later dismissed as a “tumbling webcam in space” that could not provide crucial intelligence. Western sanctions also bar Iran from importing advanced spying technology.

Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit. In 2013, Iran launched a monkey into space but the program has seen recent troubles as there have been five failed launches in a row.

The United States has earlier alleged that Iran’s satellite launches defy UN Security Council resolution which called on Tehran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles that are capable of delivering nuclear weapons as the US intelligence’ 2022 threat assessment claimed that the development of satellite launch vehicles “shortens the timeline” for Iran to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

This comes amid tensions between the West and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program which has steadily advanced since former US president Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement. Iran has expressed willingness to return to the deal, but says that the US should first ease sanctions that have been placed on Tehran.

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