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Iran announces new space launch amid nuclear talks

Insists its space programme is for civilian and defence purposes only

December 30, 2021 05:13 pm | Updated 07:01 pm IST - Tehran

Photo released by the Iranian Defense Ministry on December 30, 2021, shows the launching of Simorgh rocket in an undisclosed location in Iran.

Photo released by the Iranian Defense Ministry on December 30, 2021, shows the launching of Simorgh rocket in an undisclosed location in Iran.

Iran announced Thursday it had carried out a new space launch, in a move likely to irk Western powers amid tough talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal .

"The Simorgh satellite launcher carried three research cargos into space," defence ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini said, quoted by state television.

"The research goals foreseen for this launch have been achieved," Mr. Hosseini added, without elaborating on the nature of the research.

Explained | What are the Iran nuclear talks all about?

In February, Iran announced a successful test of its most powerful solid fuel satellite launcher to date, the Zoljanah, boasting that it can put a 220-kilogramme (1,100-pound) payload into orbit.

The United States voiced concern about that launch, saying the test could boost Iran's ballistic missile technology at a moment when the two nations are inching back to diplomacy.

Iran successfully put its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, drawing a sharp rebuke from Washington.

Western governments worry that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Iran insists its space programme is for civilian and defence purposes only, and does not breach the nuclear deal or any other international agreement.

The 2015 agreement has been hanging by a thread since the U.S. left it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to step up nuclear activities long curtailed by the deal.

A new round of negotiations began in Vienna on Monday in a fresh push to make headway on reviving the deal.

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