Monday, Aug 18, 2008
Iran said on Monday that a home-built rocket sent into space in a move that triggered US concern over possible military use will be able to take a satellite into low orbit around the earth.
Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar also vowed that Iran will soon put its own satellite into orbit, after a dummy was sent into space in Sunday’s rocket launch.
The development was likely to add to international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, which Western nations fear could be a cover for ambitions to build the atomic bomb although Tehran insists its aims are peaceful.
(Article continues below)
State television said the Safir (Ambassador) rocket is capable of putting a “light satellite into low earth orbit” between 250 and 500 kilometres (150 and 300 miles) above the earth.
It showed footage of the rocket launch, saying that the Safir is about 22 metres (72 feet) long, with a diameter of 1.25 metres (a little over four feet) and weighing more than 26 tonnes.
Iran’s most powerful military missile, the Shahab-3, has a diameter of 1.30 metres and measures 17 metres in length.
Sunday’s launch raised concerns in Washington that the rocket technology could be diverted to military use.
“The Iranian development and testing of rockets is troubling and raises further questions about their intentions,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
This article was posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm