Iran ‘uses banned missile technology’ to launch military satellite

The military satellite was launched into orbit on Wednesday and was deemed inconsistent with a United Nations Security Council resolution. A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Reports that Iran has carried out a satellite launch using ballistic missile technology are of significant concern and inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The UN has called upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran must abide by this.

“We have significant and long-standing concerns, alongside our international partners, over Iran’s ballistic missile programme, which is destabilising for the region and poses a threat to regional security.”

France has also said it strongly condemns the launch and called on Iran to “immediately halt any activity related to the development of ballistic missiles designed to be able to carry nuclear weapons, including space launch vehicles”.

A government statement said: “Given that the technology used for space launches is very similar to that used for ballistic missile launches, this launch directly contributes to the extremely troubling progress made by Iran in its ballistic missile programme.”

Iran says the satellite, called Noor, took off on top of a relatively unknown rocket called Ghased, or “Messenger,” from Iran’s Central Desert and reached an altitude of 425 kilometres, or 265 miles, above the Earth.

The rocket was a three stage launch design, not reusable, and was powered by a mixture of solid and liquid fuel.

The controversial launch comes just a couple of months after Iran’s failed attempt to launch an Earth-imaging satellite in February.

February’s rocket took off as planned but was unable to put the satellite into orbit.

Iran’s space program also suffered a major setback in August of last year, when a rocket exploded on an Iranian launchpad ahead of a planned mission to space.

Following the explosion, President Trump tweeted an incredibly detailed image of the scorched launchpad taken from above, likely taken from a classified spy satellite from the National Reconnaissance Office.

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US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has hit out at the launch, stating that it violated a UN security council resolution from 2015.

He said: “I think every nation has an obligation to go to the United Nations and evaluate whether this missile launch was consistent with that security council resolution.

“I don’t think it remotely is, and I think Iran needs to be held accountable for what they have done.”

Wednesday marked the 41st anniversary of the founding of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard by the late leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

An image of the rocket that carried the satellite showed it bore a Quranic verse typically recited when going on a journey, as well as a drawing of the Earth with the word Allah in Farsi wrapped around it.

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It remained unclear what the satellite it carried does.

General Hossein Salami, the head of the Revolutionary Guard, said: “Today, the world’s powerful armies do not have a comprehensive defense plan without being in space, and achieving this superior technology that takes us into space and expands the realm of our abilities is a strategic achievement.”

The Guard, which operates its own military infrastructure parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces, is a hard-line force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At a Pentagon news conference Wednesday, senior officials called the satellite launch a provocation.

David Norquist, the deputy secretary of defense, said: “We view this as further evidence of Iran’s behavior that is threatening in the region.”

General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was too early to say whether it successfully placed a satellite in orbit.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry described the launch as a “façade for Iran’s continuous development of advanced missile technology.”

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger warned that “the Iranian rocket program has a destabilizing effect on the region and is also unacceptable in view of our European security interests.”

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