Iran to launch satellite which US says is cover for missile program

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Iran will launch a satellite on Sunday, a government minister said, as part of a fledgling program the United States says is a cover for ballistic missile development.

“The Zafar satellite will be placed in orbit today from Semnan at a speed of 7,400 kilometers,” Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said, according to the official IRIB news agency.

Iran started counting down to the launch to the scheduled launch, which will take place within hours, the telecommunications minister said.

“Beginning countdown to launch Zafar Satellite in the next few hours… In the Name of God,” Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi wrote on Twitter.

Iran has insisted on its right to launch a space program, but the US says thatthe launch defies a UN Security Council resolutioncalling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iranian officials had previously announced the launch would be delayed until further notice, but it now appears to be going ahead. Tehran’s previous attempts to launch satellitesfailed last year.

Ahead of this launch, Jahromi posted a picture of Iran’s space suit on his Twitter account on Tuesday with the caption “Astronaut costume#bright_future”. The photoprovoked ridicule as Twitter users realized the space suit was in fact a $20 Halloween costumeavailable for purchase on Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Iran’s national space suit posted by Iranian Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi.

 

 

 

Al Arabiya English

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