Iran announces new space launch in talks to save nuclear deal

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Iran announced on Thursday that it had carried out a new space launch, in a move likely to anger Western powers amid difficult discussions over relaunching a 2015 nuclear deal.

“The Simorgh satellite launcher carried three research cargoes into space,” Defense Ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini said, quoted by state television.

“The research objectives planned for this launch have been achieved,” added Hosseini, without specifying the nature of the research.

In February, Iran announced a successful test of its most powerful solid-fuel satellite launcher to date, the Zoljanah, boasting it could put a payload of 220 kilograms (1,100 pounds) into orbit.

The United States has raised concerns over the launch, saying the test could bolster Iran’s ballistic missile technology at a time when the two countries are gradually returning to diplomacy.

Iran successfully put its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, drawing a sharp rebuke from Washington.

Western governments fear that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies that are interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of launching a nuclear warhead.

Iran insists that its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not violate the nuclear deal or any other international agreement.

The 2015 deal has been hanging by a thread since the United States left it in 2018 and reimposed the sanctions, prompting Iran to step up its nuclear activities long curtailed by the deal.

A new round of negotiations began Monday in Vienna in a new impetus to advance the relaunch of the agreement.

(AFP)

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