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Tehran (AFP) April 5, 2011
Iran is pressing Italy over a satellite, Mesbah-1, built by an Italian company in 2005 but never delivered to Tehran, a top Iranian space official said Tuesday.
"Iran now has rockets capable of launching Mesbah-1, but unfortunately Italy is using various pretexts such as (UN) resolutions and sanctions for not giving us the satellite," space agency head Hamid Fazeli was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying.
"We have started consultations (with the Italian authorities) to recover" the satellite, he said without offering details.
Mesbah-1, built by Carlo Gavazzi Space SpA, should have been launched by Russia in 2005, but never was for reasons which remain unclear.
Moscow, which launched the first Russian-built Iranian satellite, Sina-1 in 2005, said it never received Mesbah-1.
Italy, according to several specialised sites, has suspended licenses to export materials used in such projects as they are now subject to international embargos imposed on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
Tehran subsequently began construction in Iran of a derivative of the Italian satellite called Mesbah-2, which Iranian authorities hope to launch in 2011.
Iran, which has made its space programme a political priority, has announced plans to launch several satellites for observation or communication by March 2012.
In 2009, it launched its first home-built satellite, Omid, on a domestically built Safir-2 rocket. The launch provoked strong reactions in the United States and Europe.
The Iranian space programme has caused concerns in the West, which fears Tehran is seeking to acquire ballistic capabilities enabling it to eventually build missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Iran has always categorically denied its nuclear programme has military purposes.
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