DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran claimed Wednesday it had successfully launched an imaging satellite into space, a move that could raise tensions with Western nations who fear its space technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran’s Communications Minister Isa Zarepour said the Noor-3 satellite had been placed in an orbit 450 kilometers (280 miles) above Earth’s surface, state news agency IRNA reported.
There was no immediate confirmation from Western officials of the launch or the placement of the satellite into orbit. Iran has had several failed launches in recent years.
It was clear when the launch took place. The US military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Zarepour said Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Space Force, which has had successful satellite launches in the past, conducted the most recent launch. Authorities did not immediately release images of the launch.
The Guard operates its own space program and military infrastructure parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces and answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. it is Launched its first satellite into space In April 2020.
The United States alleged that Iran’s satellite launch violated a UN Security Council resolution calling on Tehran to refrain from any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The US intelligence community’s 2022 threat assessment claims that development of the satellite launch vehicle “shortens the timeline” for Iran to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile because it uses the same technology.
Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons and says its space program, like its nuclear activities, is purely for civilian purposes. US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Iran abandoned an organized military nuclear program in 2003.
Over the past decade, Iran has launched several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 sent a monkey into space. There are programs View recent issues, however. It has had five failed launches in a row SIMORG PROGRAMAnother satellite carrying rocket.
A fire at the Imam Khomeini spaceport killed three researchers in February 2019, authorities said at the time. A launchpad rocket exploded later that year Attracted the attention of former President Donald Trump.
Tensions are already high with Western nations over Iran’s nuclear program, which has steadily escalated since Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers five years ago and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
Efforts to revive the deal reached an impasse more than a year ago. Since then, the IAEA has said Iran has enriched enough uranium to make weapons. “Several” nuclear weapons If he wants to do that. Iran is also building this New underground nuclear facility It would likely be impervious to US airstrikes.
Iran has expressed willingness to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but says the US should do so first Ease restrictions.