Tehran refutes US concerns that the same long-range ballistics technology could also be used to launch nuclear warheads.
Iran has announced the successful test flight of a rocket capable of propelling satellites into space, three months after the launch of a satellite with Russia’s help.
The United States has repeatedly expressed concern that such launches could boost Iran’s ballistic missile technology, including the possible delivery of nuclear warheads.
But Iran has maintained that it does not seek nuclear weapons and that its satellite and missile launches are for civilian or defensive purposes only.
State television reported the “successful sub-orbital launch of the satellite launch vehicle named Ghaem-100”.
“The flight test of this launch vehicle using the Rafe solid fuel vehicle has been successfully completed,” it reported on Saturday.
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the space division of the Revolutionary Guards Corps that developed the Ghaem 100, said the missile would be used to launch Iran’s Nahid satellite for the telecommunications ministry, state media reported.
Saturday’s operation tested the rocket’s first suborbital stage, the reports added.
Ghaem-100 “is capable of placing satellites weighing 80 kilograms (176 pounds) in orbit 500 kilometers (just over 300 miles) from Earth’s surface,” it said.
Iran successfully launched its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020 and received a sharp rebuke from Washington.
In August this year, another Iranian satellite called Khayyam was launched by Russia on a Soyuz 2.1b rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Iranian space agency said the device was built by Russia under the supervision of Iran.
The US claimed at the time that the Khayyam would enable “significant espionage capabilities” and that a deepening alliance between Russia and Iran would amount to a “deep threat” to the world.
The Iranian space agency rejected these allegations, objecting that Khayyam’s goal was to “guard the borders of the country”, and help manage natural resources and agriculture.
In Iran, which has one of the largest missile programs in the Middle East, several failed satellite launches have been attributed to technical problems in recent years.