Wednesday, January 26

In the midst of nuclear talks, Iran announces rocket launch

Iran said Thursday it had launched a rocket carrying three space research devices into space, the United States saying it was “concerned” by the advance which it said could benefit Tehran’s ballistic program as nuclear talks are in class.

“The Simorgh satellite launcher sent three research devices into space,” announced Ahmad Hosseini, spokesman for the Iranian Defense Ministry’s space unit, quoted by state television.

The latter briefly showed images of a rocket firing from a desert location, praising “another achievement of Iranian scientists.”

“The research objectives planned for this launch have been achieved,” Hosseini said without giving further details. “This was a preliminary launch and we will have operational launches in the near future,” he promised.

Local media did not say where Thursday’s launch took place. US media, citing experts and satellite images, said earlier in December that the Islamic Republic was preparing to launch a rocket from the Semnan space center, some 300 km east of Tehran.

Washington, for its part, expressed its concerns after this announcement. Westerners suspect Iran of seeking to develop, using the technology of its satellite launchers, long-range ballistic launchers capable of carrying conventional or nuclear charges.

“The United States remains concerned about the Iranian development of space launchers, which poses a risk of proliferation,” said a spokeswoman for the State Department, who however reiterated that Washington “wishes a mutual return to full respect for the 2015 agreement “aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

– Ongoing talks –

Thursday’s announcement indeed comes in the midst of talks to save the Vienna Accord, which were relaunched at the end of November after a five-month hiatus between Tehran and the countries still party to the pact (France, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, China).

The negotiations aim to bring back into the agreement the United States, which had left it in 2018 and had reinstated sanctions against Iran. The United States is participating in the negotiations indirectly.

The agreement, validated by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, enjoins Tehran “not to carry out any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear charges, including fire using ballistic missile technology.” .

Tehran announced in February that it had tested a new satellite launcher equipped with its “more powerful” solid fuel engine.

According to the Pentagon and satellite images from the Semnan Space Center, Iran had attempted in mid-June to launch a satellite into space, without success. Tehran for its part had denied the failure of the launch.

In February 2020, Iran had failed to put into orbit a scientific observation satellite, dubbed Zafar (“Victory” in Persian). Its launch was condemned by Paris and Washington, who accused Tehran of wanting to strengthen its skills in the field of ballistic missiles through the launch of satellites.

Two months later, in April 2020, the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, launched their first military satellite.

The United States then considered that this launch proved that the Iranian space program was intended for military rather than commercial purposes.

Affirming that it has no intention of acquiring atomic weapons, Tehran assures that its ballistics and space programs do not run counter to resolution 2231.

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