March 5th, 2024

Iran launches 3 satellites into space that are part of a Western-criticized program as tensions rise

By Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press on January 27, 2024.

JERUSALEM (AP) – Iran said Sunday it successfully launched three satellites into space, the latest for a program that the West says improves Tehran’s ballistic missiles.

The state-run IRNA news agency said the launch also saw the successful use of Iran’s Simorgh rocket, which has had multiple failures in the past.

Footage released by Iranian state television showed a nighttime launch for the Simorgh rocket. An Associated Press analysis of the footage’s details showed that it took place at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province.

State TV named the launched satellites Mahda, Kayhan-2 and Hatef-1. It described the Mahda as a research satellite, while the Kayhan and the Hatef were nanosatellites focused on global positioning and communication respectively.

There have been five failed launches in a row for the Simorgh program, another satellite-carrying rocket.

The United States has previously said Iran’s satellite launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution and called on Tehran to undertake no activity involving ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. U.N. sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program expired last October.

The U.S. intelligence community’s 2023 worldwide threat assessment said the development of satellite launch vehicles “shortens the timeline” for Iran to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile because it uses similar technology.

The U.S. government did not immediately acknowledge the launch.

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Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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