29, July 2017
Three European allies of the US have engaged in rhetoric against Iran after the country successfully tested a satellite-launch rocket, urging Tehran to halt all its missile activities. “We condemn this action,” read a joint statement by Britain, France, Germany and the US on Friday, claiming the test is in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted in July 2015 to endorse Iran’s nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA), with six world powers.
“Iran’s program to develop ballistic missiles continues to be inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 and has a destabilizing impact in the region. We call on Iran not to conduct any further ballistic missile launches and related activities,” the statement added. Resolution 2231 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Tehran insists its missile tests and rocket launches do not breach any UN resolution, because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads. Earlier on Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said “every word” of the nuclear deal has been carefully negotiated, adding, “Iran does not develop missiles that are designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
The statement by the US and its European allies came a day after Washington described the successful satellite-carrying rocket launch as “a provocative action,” accusing Iran of violating UN Security Council resolutions.
Since his inauguration on January 20, US President Donald Trump has adopted a hostile policy towards Iran. He has repeatedly vowed to cancel the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, including the US. Trump’s administration has also imposed new sanctions on multiple Iranian individuals and entities.
On Thursday, Iran launched its domestically-manufactured Simorgh carrier, whose mission is to put Iranian satellites into orbit. The launch was carried out from the Imam Khomeini Space Center in the central Iranian province of Semnan. Simorgh, named after a bird in Persian mythology, is capable of placing a satellite weighing up to 250 kilograms in an orbit of 500 kilometers.
Designed and developed with the latest standards in mind, Iran’s new space rocket can carry satellites weighing up to 250 kilograms (550 pounds) about 500 kilometers (310 miles) away, well within the Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The rocket, Iran’s largest to date, will be used to launch the domestically-built Earth observation satellite Tolou (Sunrise) in the near future. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed the successful test-launch, saying such scientific achievements boost the Islamic Republic’s power and grandeur.
Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan, who accompanied Rouhani at the space center on Thursday, told reporters that the spaceport acted as a “command and control site” that could track and control satellites at all times.
He noted that the center was already capable of launching satellites to higher orbits of up to 1,000 kilometers. Iran launched its first locally-built satellite, Omid (Hope), in 2009. The country also sent its first bio-capsule containing living creatures into space in February 2010, using Kavoshgar (Explorer)-3 carrier.
In February 2015, Iran placed the domestically-made Fajr (Dawn) satellite into orbit. The satellite is capable of taking and transmitting high-quality and accurate pictures to stations on Earth. Simorgh’s launch came as the US Congress passed new sanctions against Iran over its development of missiles for defensive purposes. The bill, which also includes sanctions against Russia and North Korea, awaits US President Donald Trump’s approval.