Iran launched a rocket into space on Thursday with a satellite carrier carrying three items, officials said, without specifying if any of the objects had entered Earth’s orbit.
It was unclear when the launch would take place or what gadgets the carrier would provide. The bomb was broadcast against the backdrop of talks in Vienna to repair Iran’s shattered nuclear pact with international powers. This week, an eight-round tournament was begun, and it will resume after the New Year’s holidays.
The United States has previously chastised previous launches. Requests for comment from the US State Department, Space Force, and Pentagon on Iran’s declaration on Thursday were not immediately returned.
A Defense Ministry official, Ahmad Hosseini, described the rocket as a Simorgh, or “Phoenix,” rocket that sent the three bombs 470 kilometers into the sky (290 miles).
Hosseini was cited as adding, “The performance of the space center and the performance of the satellite carrier was done appropriately.”
However, Hosseini and other authorities stayed mute on the condition of the items hours later, implying that the rocket failed to place its cargo into the proper orbit. According to state-affiliated media covering the event, Hosseini’s speed for the satellite carrier would not be enough to reach orbit.
In recent years, Iran’s civilian space program has had a number of setbacks, including tragic fires and a launchpad rocket accident that caught the attention of former President Donald Trump.
Iranian official media has published a list of forthcoming satellite launches for Iran’s civilian space program. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard has its own satellite-launching program, which was successful last year. Hosseini called the launch on Thursday “initial,” implying that there will be more.
The white rocket emblazoned with the words “Simorgh satellite carrier” and the slogan “We can” shot into the morning sky from Iran’s Imam Khomeini Spaceport, according to television video. The launch was praised as “another triumph by Iranian experts” by a state TV correspondent at a nearby desert location.
The launches have sparked fears in Washington that the technology used to launch satellites may help Iran construct ballistic missiles. According to the US, such satellite launches violate a UN Security Council resolution requiring Iran to refrain from any activities involving ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran claims that its satellite launches and rocket tests have no military component, despite the fact that it has long said that it does not desire nuclear weapons.
Tehran’s hard-line stance under President Ebrahim Raisi, a freshly elected conservative cleric, is reflected in the announcement of a rocket launch while negotiators battle to repair the atomic agreement.
As Tehran pushes forward with atomic developments, new Iranian demands in the nuclear talks have enraged Western governments and heightened regional tensions. Diplomats have warned that time is running out to resurrect the agreement, which collapsed three years ago when Trump unilaterally removed the US from it.
When nuclear talks begin next week in Vienna, Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani told Iranian state television that he expects diplomats do “more serious efforts to ease sanctions.” He hailed the last week’s discussions as “promising.”
Washington, on the other hand, has poured cold water on Tehran’s optimistic judgments. “It’s really too early to say if Iran has returned with a more constructive attitude to this round,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters earlier this week.
Iran has already abandoned all of the agreement’s restrictions and increased uranium enrichment from under 4% purity to 60% purity — just a short technical step away from weapons-grade levels. International inspectors are finding it difficult to keep track of Tehran’s progress.
The Associated Press saw satellite photographs earlier this month that suggested a launch was on the way. The photographs revealed preparations at the spaceport, which is located 240 kilometers (150 miles) southeast of Tehran in the arid plains of Iran’s rural Semnan region.
Iran has launched many short-lived satellites into orbit during the last decade, as well as a monkey into space in 2013. The administration appears to have strengthened its attention on space under Raisi. For the first time in 11 years, Iran’s Supreme Council of Space convened.