Iran to start own telecom satellite
TEHRAN (AFP) Dec 25, 2000
Iran's state telecommunications company announced Monday that the contruction of an independent Iranian satellite was due to begin in March 2001.

The government newspaper Iran said China, France, India and Russia had submitted proposals for the project, dubbed "Zohreh."

"A 300 million-dollar budget has been allocated to this project," a top Iranian telecommunications official told the newspaper.

He added that the country's High Council for Economy was examining the four submissions and that if the council approved one of them, construction would start as soon as January, with completion targeted for early 2002.

He said Iran had a two-year deadline for launching an independent telecom satellite.

The project has been in the air since the 1980s but was never pushed through, mainly for financial reasons.

Iran, with a population of 60 million spread out on a territory of 1.6 million kilometers (618,000 square miles), is seeking to improve its communications system.