January 15, 2019 / 7:09 AM / 2 months ago

Iran satellite launch fails after U.S. warning

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran’s bid to launch a satellite has failed, Telecoms Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said on Tuesday, after it ignored U.S. warnings to avoid such activity.

Washington warned Tehran this month against undertaking three planned rocket launches that it said would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology.

The United States is concerned that the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit can also be used to launch warheads.

In a tweet on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran had carried out the launch “in defiance of the international community” and added: “The launch yet again shows that Iran is pursuing enhanced missile capabilities that threaten Europe and the Middle East.”

In a subsequent statement, Pompeo said the launch furthered Iran’s ability to eventually build an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“We have been clear that we will not stand for Iran’s flagrant disregard for international norms,” he said. “The United States is working with our allies and partners to counter the entire range of the Islamic Republic’s threats.”

Iran, which considers its space programme a matter of national pride, has said its space vehicle launches and missile tests were not violations and would continue.

Under the United Nations Security Council resolution that enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers - which Washington pulled out of last spring - the country is “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

Azari-Jahromi said the satellite, named Payam, failed in the third stage of the launch because it “did not reach adequate speed,” according to a report on the ministry’s website.

The satellite was intended to be used for imaging and communications purposes and was mounted with four cameras, according to the report.

The satellite was intended to stay at an altitude of 500 km for about three years.

Another satellite named Doosti is waiting to be launched, Azari-Jahromi tweeted.

“We should not come up short or stop,” Azari-Jahromi wrote on Twitter after announcing the failed launch. “It’s exactly in these circumstances that we Iranians are different than other people in spirit and bravery.”

Iran launched its first domestically built satellite, the OMID (Hope) research and telecoms satellite in 2009 on the 30th anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution in 2009.

The 40th anniversary falls in February.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva and David Brunnstrom in Washington; editing by Richard Chang and Tom Brown

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