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Iran launches imaging satellite through Russia
Iran launches imaging satellite through Russia
by AFP Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Feb 29, 2024

Russia on Thursday put into orbit an Iranian remote sensing and imaging satellite, state media said in Tehran, drawing condemnation from the United States.

The launch of "Pars-I" with the Russian Soyuz-2.1b rocket was broadcast live by state television in Iran.

The satellite was launched from Russia's Vostochny base, some 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) east of Moscow, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Iran's telecommunications minister Issa Zarepour said Pars-I was "fully domestically developed" in Iran, which he said has carried out a dozen satellite launches over the past two years.

Moscow has sought to strengthen its alliances with other countries ostracised by the West, including Iran, which has been accused of supplying Moscow with armed drones for its offensive in Ukraine.

The latest satellite launch is "yet another indication of the deepening military partnership between Iran and Russia," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters in Washington.

"This partnership is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran's neighbours and to the international community. We have demonstrated our ability to take action in response," he said.

He warned of further action if Iran sells ballistic missiles to Russia. The United States earlier in February said it planned further sanctions on Iran for backing Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In August 2022, Russia launched Iran's remote-sensing Khayyam satellite into orbit from Kazakhstan amid controversy that Moscow might use it to boost its surveillance of military targets in its war in Ukraine.

Tehran denies support to Russia and defends its satellite launches.

In January, Iran said it simultaneously launched three satellites into orbit, nearly a week after the launch of a research satellite by its Revolutionary Guards.

Western governments including the United States have repeatedly warned Iran against such launches, saying the same technology can be used for ballistic missiles, including ones designed to deliver a nuclear warhead.

Iran has countered that it is not seeking nuclear weapons and that its satellite and rocket launches are for civil or defence purposes only.

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