Iran has launched a rocket carrying three satellites, Iranian state television reported on December 30.

It was unclear exactly when the reported launch took place, what kind of launcher was used, or whether any objects had successfully entered Earth’s orbit.

Independent satellite images of Iran taken earlier this month seemed to show that a launch was imminent, AP reported.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency quoted air force spokesman Ahmad Hosseini as saying the launch was a “space research mission.”

The reported launch comes amid difficult negotiations in Vienna between Tehran and world powers over a landmark 2015 deal aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear program. That deal has been under threat since the United States withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions against Iran in 2018.

On December 28, European delegates to the Vienna talks issued a joint statement saying, “we are clear that we are nearing the point where Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program will have completely hollowed out” the 2015 agreement.

One reason the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump gave for withdrawing from the agreement was concern that it did not restrict Iran’s strategic missile program.

Iran’s civilian space program has been bedeviled by launch failures. A parallel program under the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) successfully launched a satellite in 2020.

Source » rferl