The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has reportedly launched an earth observation satellite into space. Videos of a rocket launch have not been released. The USA fears military motivation.
Iran says it has launched an Earth observation satellite into space. The state news agency Irna reported, citing Communications Minister Isa Sarepur, that the “Nur-3” satellite had been placed into an orbit at an altitude of 450 kilometers. There was no confirmation from the West of the launch or deployment of the satellite into orbit.
Revolutionary Guard with your own Space program
Sarepur said the space division of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was responsible for the launch. The authority did not release any videos or images.
The Revolutionary Guard operates its own space program and military infrastructure parallel to the regular Iranian armed forces and reports only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It launched its first satellite into space in April 2020.
USA fears military purposes
Iran’s stated intention is to use satellites to obtain data on weather, natural disasters and agriculture. Contrary to Tehran’s representation, the USA and Israel fear that there is a military background for the space program.
According to the USA, the Iranian satellite launches also violate a resolution of the UN Security Council. They have called on Tehran not to engage in activities related to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. A 2022 US intelligence threat assessment said such launches could shorten Iran’s path to an intercontinental ballistic missile because the technology used is similar.
Over the past decade, Iran has launched several short-lived satellites into orbit and launched a monkey into space in 2013. However, recently there have been problems with the “Simorgh” rocket: five launches in a row failed.
Tensions with the West
The alleged satellite launch is reported in a tense situation. For more than a year, efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal that was intended to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb have failed to make significant progress.
Last week, the United States and Iran completed a prisoner swap that has been in preparation for months, which observers say could also pave the way for new rounds of talks.