Iran claims successful launch of three satellites into space

Iran’s programme raises concerns in the West that Tehran could develop long-range ballistic missiles

A satellite carrier is launched at the Imam Khomeini spaceport in Iran's rural Semnan province. AP
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Iran on Sunday successfully launched three satellites into space, state-run media claimed, the latest in its satellite programme that the West sees as part of Tehran’s relentless efforts to develop long-range ballistic missiles.

“Three Iranian satellites were successfully launched into space for the first time, with the Simorgh satellite,” the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

One satellite weighing 32kg and two nano-satellites of less than 10kg each were sent to a minimum orbit of 450km, with the two smaller devices aimed at testing narrowband communication and geopositioning technology, the reports said.

The larger satellite, named “Mahda” and built by Iran's Space Agency, is meant to test the accuracy of the Simorgh rocket in delivering multiple cargoes to space.

“Mahda satellites and two nano-satellites were successfully put into orbit,” IRNA said.

Earlier this month, Iran launched its Sorayya satellite into orbit with a rocket built by the military, raising concerns among European powers that the space launch vehicle's technology could be used for the development of ballistic missile systems.

The statement from France, Germany and the UK said the three powers, "remain committed to taking every diplomatic step to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and to hold Iran to account for its destabilising activity in the region and internationally."

Iran on Saturday dismissed European countries’ condemnation of its launch of the Sorayya satellite, saying peaceful technological advancement in the aerospace field was the country’s legitimate right.

The US has previously said Iran’s satellite launches defy a UN Security Council resolution and called on Tehran to undertake no activity involving ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. UN sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile programme expired last October.

The US intelligence community’s 2023 worldwide threat assessment said the development of satellite launch vehicles “shortens the timeline” for Iran to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile because it uses similar technology.

Updated: January 28, 2024, 12:13 PM