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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Iran launches rocket into space as nuclear talks to resume

TEHRAN, Iran ( Associated Press) – Iranian state television said on Sunday that Tehran launched a solid-fuel rocket into space, drawing a rebuke from Washington ahead of the expected resumption of stalled talks over Tehran’s torn nuclear deal with world powers. did.

It is not clear when or where the rocket was launched, but the announcement was made after satellite images were prepared. A satellite was placed into orbit at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of Iran’s successive unsuccessful attempts.

State-run media broadcast dramatic footage of the explosion against a backdrop of rising tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, which is proceeding under a lack of international oversight.

Iran previously admitted it planned more tests For the satellite-carrying rocket, which it first launched in February last year.

Iran’s Defense Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hosseini said the 25.5-metre-tall rocket Zuljanah is capable of carrying a 220-kilogram (485-pound) satellite that will collect data in low-Earth orbit and boost Iran’s space industry. Zuljanah is named for the horse of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

The White House said it was aware of Iran’s announcement and criticized the move as “helpless and destabilizing”. It said it was committed to using sanctions and other measures to prevent further progress in Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The launch comes a day after the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, visited Tehran to resume talks on Iran’s nuclear programme, which has been at a standstill for months. Some important points remain, including Tehran’s demand that Washington lift the terrorism embargo on its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

Borrell said on Saturday that talks on the nuclear deal would resume in the coming days in an unnamed Persian Gulf country, with Iranian media reporting Qatar will host the talks.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal in 2018 and again imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. Tehran responded by greatly speeding up its nuclear work and now enriches uranium closer to weapons-grade levels than ever before.

In another detail that has limited the international community’s view of its nuclear program, Iran this month removed more than two dozen International Atomic Energy Agency cameras from its nuclear sites. The agency’s director called the move a “fatal blow” to the broken nuclear deal.

Tehran’s rocket launch in Washington has raised alarm amid the revelations of the nuclear deal. The US has warned of defying a UN Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to refrain from any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The US intelligence community’s 2022 threat assessment published in March claims that such a satellite launch vehicle “shortened the timeline” for an intercontinental ballistic missile for Iran because it uses “similar technologies”. .

Iran, which has long said it does not seek nuclear weapons, maintains its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component.

Even as Iran’s government has intensified its focus on space, sending several short-lived satellites into orbit and launching a monkey into space in 2013, the program has seen recent troubles. There have been five consecutive unsuccessful launches for the Simorg program., a type of satellite-carrying rocket. In February 2019, three researchers were also killed in a fire at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport.

The launch pad used to prepare for the launch of the Juljana rocket was engulfed in an explosion in August 2019, which also caught the attention of then-President Trump., He later tweeted what appears to be a classified surveillance image of the launch failure. Satellite image from February Earlier this year it suggested a failed Zuljana launch, although Iran did not accept it.

Meanwhile, in April 2020 Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard revealed its secret space program By successfully launching the satellite into orbit. The Guard operates its own military infrastructure in parallel with Iran’s regular armed forces.

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