Iran conducts space launch amid nuclear talks

Published December 31, 2021
A SIMORGH (Phoenix) satellite rocket lifts off during its launch at an undisclosed location in Iran.—AFP
A SIMORGH (Phoenix) satellite rocket lifts off during its launch at an undisclosed location in Iran.—AFP

TEHRAN: Iran announced on Thursday it has carried out a new space launch, in a move likely to irk Western powers amid tough talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal.

Tehran successfully put its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, drawing a sharp rebuke from Washington.

Western governments worry that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Iran insists its space programme is for civilian and defence purposes only, and does not breach the nuclear deal or any other international agreement. UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of 2015, endorsing the nuclear deal, imposed no blanket ban on Iranian rocket or missile launches.

Iran’s state broadcaster aired footage of a rocket rising from a desert launchpad, but gave no details of its location. “The Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite launcher carried three research cargos into space,” said defence ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini.

“The research goals foreseen for this launch have been achieved,” he added, quoted by state television.

Earlier this month US media reported that preparations for a launch were under way at Iran’s space centre in Semnan, 300 kilometres east of Tehran.

Hosseini did not elaborate on the nature of the research, but he said the latest operation was a “preliminary launch” and that more would follow.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2021

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