Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran 'Ready' To Put Muslim Countries' Satellites In Orbit

Iran says it successfully launched this rocket and put a dummy satellite in orbit.

TEHRAN -- Iran has said it is ready to help fellow Muslim states launch satellites into orbit after it successfully put a dummy satellite into orbit -- a move that may increase Western suspicions over its atomic ambitions.

Iran said on August 17 that it had put the home-grown dummy satellite into orbit on a domestically made rocket for the first time. The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons.

Iran says has no intention to do so.

The head of Iran's Aerospace Organization, Reza Taghipour, said Iran wanted to help Muslim countries to launch satellites.

"I am announcing now that Iran is ready to launch satellites of friendly Islamic countries into space," Taghipour told state television.

Test Called 'Unfortunate'

Embroiled in a standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions, Iran in February tested another domestically made rocket as part of its satellite program.

Washington, accusing Iran of aiming to equip missiles with nuclear warheads, called the February test "unfortunate." It cites Iran's missile potential, among others, as the reason why it needs to install a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.

France and Russia both said the February test raised the suspicion that Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

The United States and its European allies fear Iran is trying to obtain nuclear arms under cover of a civilian program. Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, insists it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

The UN nuclear watchdog body in a report in May expressed "serious concern" over alleged Iranian research into nuclear warheads and said Iran should provide more explanation of questionable missile-related activities.

Iran has so far said it was not the agency's business "to delve into those allegations."

Three Rounds Of Sanctions

Iran says it has home-grown missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers, meaning it could hit Israel or U.S. military bases in the Gulf.

Western experts say Iran rarely provides enough details for them to determine the extent of its technological advances, but that much Iranian technology consists of modifications of equipment supplied by China, North Korea, and other countries.

Iran has been hit by three rounds of UN sanctions for defying demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment program. Six major powers are working on another one.

Taghipour said Iran was planning to build and launch more satellites by 2010.

"We are working on these satellites and gradually they will be put into orbit," he told the semi-official Mehr news agency.