Daily US Times: Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) claims that for the first time it has successfully launched a military satellite into orbit.
A statement from IRGC says, the satellite, named Nur (“Light”), reached an orbit of 425km (264 miles) after being carried by a three-stage Qased launcher.
In the past year, Iran has attempted several launches but failed.
If the claims of Wednesday is verified, it seems likely to add to the tensions between Iran and the US.
The US has said that Iran’s satellite launching goes against a UN Security Council resolution, which calls upon on the country not to “undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons”.
Iran has denied violating the resolution and insisted that its space programme is entirely peaceful and that it has no intention to develop nuclear weapons.
The same resolution endorsed a 2015 nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran, but US President Donald Trump abandoned two years ago, claiming it was flawed.
Tensions between Iran and the United States rose in January when the US killed a top IRGC general in a drone strike in Iraq.
Iran retaliated by firing missiles on two bases in Iraq hosting US troops.
IRGC described the satellite launching would “be a great success and a new development in the field of space for Islamic Iran”.
Footage of the launching was broadcast in the state TV, which shows Qased carrier inscribed with a verse from the Koran that Muslims often recite when going on a journey: “Glory be to Him, who has subjected this to us, and we ourselves were not equal to it.”
Brig-Gen Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, RGC Aerospace Force commander, said the Qased “used a compound of liquid and solid propellants”. He added: “Only superpowers have such capability and the rest are just users of such technology.”
The country’s Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi congratulated the IRGC on the “great national achievement” and claimed that the Aerospace Force’s space programme was defensive.
He tweeted: “Part of Iran’s peaceful [space] programme is civilian which is pursued by the government, while another part is for peaceful defence purposes and naturally carried out by the armed forces.”
Associated Press quoted a Pentagon official as saying that US officials would continue to “closely monitor Iran’s pursuit of viable space launch technology”.
Maj Rob Lodewick said: “While Tehran does not currently have intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), its desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to develop an ICBM.”