Iran launches satellite; US calls it troubling

DUBAI (BNS): Iran has successfully tested a rocket capable of launching satellites into the orbit, kicking off yet another front for garnering international concern and attention.

The Iranian television on Sunday showed images of a rocket launch in the nighttime, announcing that a dummy satellite has been placed into orbit successfully. The Iranian media reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was present at the space centre and personally carried out the countdown.

A White House spokesman said the development was troubling, saying it was part of Iran’s efforts at developing delivery mechanism capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Rocket technology can easily be converted into ballistic missiles, and most nations have developed their missile capabilities from space rockets.

“The Iranian development and testing of rockets is troubling and raises further questions about their intentions,” a White House spokesman, Gordon D Johndroe, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The Iranian TV said the rocket was Safir-e-Omid (Ambassador of Peace), with two stages. Some analysts speculated that it could even have a third stage—Shahab, the first stage, which is the Iranian standard rocket, a second liquid-fueled stage and a possible third solid- fuel stage.

Director of the state space agency Reza Taghipoor said the rocket has beamed flight data to the ground control. For long, Iran has had ambition to be a space power. It was in 2005 that Iran launched its first commercial satellite on a Russian rocket. According to information emanating from the Iranian government, they would launch four more satellites by 2010.

A statement from the Iranian defence ministry said, the entire rocket was built by Iranian experts.

The satellite launch comes even Iran refuses to suspend Uranium enrichment, which could be used for nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile on Sunday, the Iranian Air Force chief was quoted as saying that his fighters have been upgraded to fly up to 3000 kilometers, without mid-air refueling. This would mean Iranian fighters could cover Israel. “We do not wish to attack another country, but we will defend ourselves should we be attacked,” the air force chief Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani said.

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