On Sunday, Iran announced the successful launch of three satellites into space as part of a program that the Western world claims enhances their ballistic missile capabilities.
According to the government-owned IRNA news agency, the launch was a success and marked the first time Iran’s Simorgh rocket has been used successfully after experiencing several previous failures.
As tensions remain high in the Middle East, Israel’s ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza has led to the launch of this event.
Although Iran has not used military force in the conflict, it is facing mounting pressure from its government to take action following a recent suicide bombing by the Islamic State and attacks by proxy groups like Yemen’s Houthi rebels that are connected to the ongoing war.
The Simorgh rocket was launched at night from the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, according to footage released by Iranian state television. An analysis by the Associated Press of the footage revealed this information.
The satellites that were launched were given the names Mahda, Kayhan-2, and Hatef-1 by State TV. According to the broadcast, Mahda is a research satellite, while Kayhan and Hatef are nanosatellites designed for global positioning and communication purposes.
The Simorgh program, which aims to launch satellites into orbit, has experienced five consecutive unsuccessful launches. These failures, as well as other incidents such as deadly fires and a launchpad explosion, have been major setbacks for Iran’s space program. The rocket used in these attempts is named “Phoenix,” known as the Simorgh, and has garnered attention from former U.S. President Donald Trump.
The U.S. has stated that Iran’s satellite launches go against a U.N. Security Council resolution and has urged Tehran to refrain from any actions involving ballistic missiles with the ability to carry nuclear weapons. Sanctions from the U.N. regarding Iran’s ballistic missile program ended in October of last year.
According to the 2023 global threat assessment by the U.S. intelligence community, the progress of satellite launch vehicles may speed up Iran’s ability to create an intercontinental ballistic missile due to the shared technology utilized.
The U.S. military and State Department have not yet replied to comment requests. However, the U.S. military has quietly confirmed the Revolutionary Guard’s successful launch of an Iranian satellite on January 20.