Reuters: Iran plans to launch a telecommunications satellite, the president said on Saturday, using missile technology the West fears is being developed to fire nuclear warheads.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran plans to launch a telecommunications satellite, the president said on Saturday, using missile technology the West fears is being developed to fire nuclear warheads.
Iran said last Sunday it had put a dummy satellite into orbit on a domestically made rocket for the first time, although U.S. officials said the attempted launch was a failure.
"Today, the Iranian nation has obtained the technology to produce different kinds of satellites and with God's help it will launch its first telecommunications … satellite into space," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally.
He did not give a timetable in the remarks carried by state TV. Iran's top aerospace official said on Thursday the country aimed to send a manned rocket into space in the next 10 years.
"Our nation has a modern missile that can launch the second stage missile 250 km (150 miles) into space. The second stage is a smaller missile carrying the satellite which has very complex technical equipment," the president said.
The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons.
The West, which accuses Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb, believes Tehran is seeking to developed more advanced missile technology so it can launch atomic warheads. Iran denies any such intention and says its nuclear program is peaceful.
U.S. analyst Charles Vick, commenting on Iran's announcement last Sunday, said the Islamic Republic appeared to have succeeded in igniting the second stage of its booster rocket and gained data that will help it perfect its launch system.
The head of Iran's aerospace organization, Reza Taghipour, said on Thursday Iran would cooperate with Islamic states in building a satellite. He also said Iran was working with Russia and other Asian states to launch another satellite.
(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian, writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Mary Gabriel)