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Iran says it launched a satellite despite Western concerns

January 20, 2024

The Soraya satellite has reached a higher orbit in a new milestone for Iran's aerospace program. Western nations fear that the space technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

An Iranian woman is walking under a billboard in Tehran that is displaying an image of the Iranian Qased satellite carrier
Iran's Revolutionary Guard has had success in launching satellites in the pastImage: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/IMAGO

Iran said it had successfully launched a satellite into orbit Saturday despite concerns in the West over its aerospace program.

The Soraya satellite was placed in an orbit at 750 kilometers (about 460 miles) above the Earth's surface with a three-stage rocket, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

"This is the first time that Iran has successfully placed a satellite in orbits higher than 500 kilometers," IRNA said.

Revolutionary Guard involvement causes concern

Iran had launched multiple satellites over the past few years for purposes that it claims are both civilian and defense-related.

The Soraya satellite was shot into orbit atop the Ghaem-100 rocket of Iran's paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The United States had previously said Iran's satellite launches violated a UN Security Council resolution. The resolution called on Tehran to undertake no activity involving ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Last year, a US intelligence report warned that Iran's satellite launch vehicle development "shortens the timeline"  for the country to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile because of the similar technology involved.

Other Western governments have voiced similar concerns about Iran's aerospace program.

Iran denies any ambition to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

lo/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa)