Iranian Satellite in Orbit;Washington is Worried

The Islamic Republic has launched for the first time, a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit. The United States has expressed reservations about Iranian intentions–an announcement that could intensify international pressure.

Iran announced that on Sunday, August 17th, it successfully launched a locally manufactured rocket carrier and that it has succeeded in putting into orbit a “test satellite.” “The path has been paved to send a communication satellite to space in the future,” commented on Iranian television, showing images filmed at night presented as those of the launched rocket.

In the images featured on the Arabic language channel Al-Alam, one sees a rocket in a vertical position releasing yellow flames, about to take off, and then an image of the rocket in mid-air. The launching was accomplished before dawn, according to the television news report. The Iranian agencies published photos of the rocket taken in a warehouse. They show two distinct parts of the rocket: the upper part, with a length of two to three meters, and the separated lower part.

Initially, the Iranian media, citing the spokesman for the government Gholamhossein Elham, but also a statement from the staff of the armed forces, spoke of the launching of a true communications satellite.

“We have succeeded in becoming a nuclear power”

“The second launching of the rocket Safir (Messenger), carrier of the first Omid satellite, was carried out successfully,” affirmed notably a statement of the Iranian general staff of the armed forces.

But afterwards, a high Iranian official affirmed that the local media “had made a mistake. It was a launching of a rocket capable of carrying a satellite. The Omid satellite was not launched.”

In his visit this week in Turkey, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that Iran was going to carry out the launch of an Iranian satellite “very soon”, also with the help of a locally manufactured rocket “With God’s help, we are going to launch the first Iranian communication satellite very soon, with an Iranian launcher,” he declared in a meeting with Iranians staying in Turkey. “After 30 years of undergoing sanctions (by Western powers) today we have succeeded in becoming a nuclear power,” added Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Washington did not delay in reacting to the launching of the Iranian rocket. “The development and the test of rockets by Iran is a source of worry and raises new questions in regards to its intentions,” affirmed Gordon Johndroe, spokesperson for the White House. “This initiative and the possibilities to make double usage for their program of ballistic missiles is not in agreement with the obligations demanded by the UN Security Council,” he added.

The Western countries, with the United States at the head, fear that Iran could turn its civil nuclear program to military objectives although Tehran denied that this is its intention. Tehran refuses to suspend its program of uranium enrichment despite three resolutions imposing sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council.

The first Iranian rocket was launched February 4th, and reached an altitude of 200 km. Ahmad Talebzadeh, head of the Iranian Space Agency, affirmed at the time that the launcher included two parts, underlining that the first part separated itself afterv100 seconds while the second continued its trajectory until an altitude of 200 km.

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