Iran announced Thursday that it had conducted a new space launch, a move that is likely to irritate Western powers in the midst of difficult talks to resurrect a 2015 nuclear deal.
US media reported earlier this month that preparations for a launch were underway at Iran’s space center in Semnan, 300 kilometers (190 miles) east of Tehran, it gave no details about its location.
Iran announced in February that it had launched the Zoljanah, its most powerful solid-fuel rocket to date, capable of launching a 220-kilogram (480-pound) payload into orbit.
The US expressed concern about the launch, claiming that it could boost Iran’s ballistic missile technology at a time when the two countries are resuming diplomatic relations.
In April 2020, Iran successfully launched its first military satellite into orbit, prompting a sharp rebuke from the United States.
However, an Iranian satellite launch failed in mid-June, according to the Pentagon and satellite imagery of the Semnan center. It was declared a failure by Tehran.
Western governments are concerned that satellite launch systems use technologies that are interchangeable with those used in nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
Iran claims that its space program is solely for civilian and defense purposes, and that it is not in violation of the nuclear deal or any other international agreement.
Resolution 2231 of the United Nations Security Council, which endorsed the nuclear deal, did not impose a blanket ban on Iranian rocket or missile launches.
The 2015 agreement has been dangling by a thread since then-President Donald Trump abandoned it in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, prompting Iran to resume nuclear activities that had been slowed by the agreement.
A new round of talks began in Vienna on Monday, in an effort to make progress toward reviving the deal.
The goal is to re-establish Washington and limit Tehran’s nuclear activities.
Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia are directly involved in the negotiations with Iran, while the United States is only indirectly involved.