Iran Launches Research Satellite, Testing Western Powers Amid Nuclear Deal Talks

Iran announced on Thursday that it had carried out a new space launch, in a move likely to upset Western powers amid tough talks about reviving a 2015 nuclear deal.

“The Simorgh satellite launcher carried three investigation charges into space,” Defense Ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini was quoted as saying on state television.

“The research objectives envisaged for this launch have been achieved,” Hosseini added, without elaborating on 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 that it can put a 220-kilogram (1,100-pound) payload into orbit.

The United States raised concerns about that launch, saying the test could boost Iran’s ballistic missile technology at a time when the two nations are slowly retreating toward diplomacy.

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

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

Iran insists its space program is for civil 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 US abandoned it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to step up nuclear activities long restricted by the deal.

A new round of negotiations began in Vienna on Monday in a new push to advance the reactivation of the agreement.


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