Pompeo: Iran's military satellite launch exposes "dangerous" space programme

The West believes the technology could be used to launch nuclear weapons

A first military satellite named Noor is launched into orbit by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, in Semnan, Iran April 22, 2020. WANA/Sepah News via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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The UK and the US have condemned Iran’s military satellite launch from earlier this week, saying that is of "significant concern" and that Tehran defied a UN Security Council resolution.

In a statement on Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the launch proved Iran's space programme is "neither peaceful nor entirely civilian," as Iran's Minister for Information claimed earlier this week.

"All peace-loving nations must reject Iran’s development of ballistic-missile capable technologies and join together to constrain Iran’s dangerous missile programs," Mr Pompeo said in the statement.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said on Wednesday it had successfully launched the country's first military satellite into orbit, at a time of fraught tensions with the United States over Tehran's nuclear and missile programs. Noor 1 reached 425 kilometres above the earth's surface after taking off from Iran's Central Desert, the IRGC said.

The US military has warned that the same long-range ballistic technology used to launch the satellite into orbit could also allow Iran to launch longer-range weapons, including nuclear warheads.

Mr Pompeo said the launch showed that the Iranian regime was lying about its military programme and promised a response from the international community.

"They told the world that they didn’t have a military program that was involved in missiles and satellites, and yesterday the IRGC, the cutting edge of the Iranian military, announced that they had launched a satellite into low Earth orbit," he said in a television interview on Friday.

"What we intend to do is to gather the nations across the world. I’m confident that there will now be more countries that understand what President Trump has understood since he first came into office, that the Iran deal was a crazy, bad deal.”

Tehran has denied the US claims and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

A 2015 UN resolution –  UN Security Council Resolution 2231 – called upon Iran to desist for up to eight years work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons following the deal agreed that year with world powers which saw the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

“Reports that Iran has carried out a satellite launch – using ballistic missile technology – are of significant concern and inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” a British Foreign Office spokesperson said on Friday.

“The UN has called upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran must abide by this.”

“We have significant and longstanding concerns, alongside our international partners, over Iran’s ballistic missile programme, which is destabilising for the region and poses a threat to regional security,” the spokesperson added.

The statement echoes US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Thursday, who said Tehran needed to be held accountable for breaching the resolution.

Tensions between Iran and the West are running high following several boat sabotages in the Gulf and the US’s targeted killing of Iran’s top military general Qassem Suleimani in January.

There has been a string of seemingly retaliatory attacks on Western military bases in Iraq, though the source of the attacks has not yet been pinpointed. The US has blamed militias backed by Tehran for the attacks, but Iran has denied responsibility.