Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed Wednesday it had successfully sent the country’s first military satellite into orbit, with leader General Hossein Salami applauding the “significant achievement.”
There was no immediate independent confirmation of the launch of the satellite, which the IRGC called “Noor,” or light. The U.S. State Department and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment, AP reports.
However, such a launch immediately raised concerns among experts on whether the technology used could help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.
On its official website, the Guard said the satellite successfully reached an orbit of 425 kilometers (264 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The Guard called it the first military satellite ever launched by Tehran.
The three-stage satellite launch took off from Iran’s Central Desert, the Guard said, without elaborating further. Some vision was released to support the claim:
Gen. Salami was left in no doubt about the unique achievement of his country’s military scientists.
“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,” he said.
He described the satellite as “multifunctional.”
Iran announced in January last year it planned to launch three satellites into space in the space of 12 months.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded by noting satellite launch vehicles “incorporate technology that is virtually identical to that used in ballistic missiles” and strongly advised Iran to scrub the launches or risk defying U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place international stability and security at risk,” Pompeo said. “We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation.”
The United States argues that such launches by Iran breach United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology.
The resolution, which endorsed the nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers, stops short of explicitly barring such activity. Iran says its space programme is peaceful and has dismissed Washington’s call to end its missile programme.
AP contributed to this report