Iran’s Revolutionary Guards “successfully” launched a new military imaging satellite on Wednesday, state media reported, in the latest display of its aerospace technology which has sparked Western concern.
“The Nour-3 imaging satellite… was successfully placed in orbit 450 kilometres (280 miles) above earth,” the IRNA news agency said, quoting Telecommunications Minister Issa Zarepour.
He said it was carried by the three-stage Qassed satellite carrier, which also launched predecessors Nour-2 in 2022 and Nour-1 in 2020.
Wednesday’s launch was carried out by the aerospace wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the ideological arm of the country’s armed forces.
IRGC commander Hossein Salami told state television that the new satellite would provide higher resolution images than its predecessors enabling the Guards to “meet their intelligence needs.”
The United States has repeatedly warned Iran against such launches, saying the same technology can be used for ballistic missiles, including ones designed to deliver a nuclear warhead.
Other Western governments have voiced similar concerns.
Iran counters that it is not seeking nuclear weapons and that its satellite and rocket launches are for civil or defense purposes only.
It has struggled with several satellite launch failures in the past, and the successful launch of its first military satellite into orbit, Nour-1, in April 2020 drew a sharp rebuke from the US.
Tehran has been under crippling US sanctions since Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal which granted Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear activities designed to prevent it from developing an atomic warhead.
Iran has always denied any ambition to develop a nuclear weapons capability, insisting that its activities are entirely peaceful.
In a recent interview with a Japanese news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke of a Japanese proposal to relaunch Iran’s nuclear talks with the United States.
Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic ties since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.