Iran has announced it successfully launched the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite after months of failures, a programme the United States alleges is a cover for missile development.
“The first satellite of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been successfully launched into orbit by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC],” said the elite forces’ official website on Wednesday.
It said the satellite – dubbed the Nour – was deployed from the Qassed two-stage launcher from the Markazi desert, a vast expanse in Iran’s central plateau.
The satellite “orbited the Earth at 425km [264 miles]”, said the website. “This action will be a great success and a new development in the field of space for Islamic Iran.”
The IRGC called it the first military satellite ever launched by Tehran. It used a Ghased, or “Messenger”, satellite carrier to put the device into space, a previously unheard-of system.
As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and historically low oil prices, the missile launch may signal a new willingness to take risks by Iran.
Iran, also called Persia, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. Its central location in Eurasia and proximity to the Strait of Hormuz give it significant geostrategic importance. Tehran is the capital and largest city.
Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BC. The Iranian Revolution established the current Islamic Republic in 1979.
Iran’s political system combines elements of a presidential democracy and an Islamic theocracy. Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, OIC, and OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power and has large reserves of fossil fuels — including the world’s largest natural gas supply and the third largest proven oil reserves.
The country’s rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Historically a multi-ethnic country, Iran remains a pluralistic society comprising numerous ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Mazandaranis and Lurs.
The United States is a country also known as the United States of America, USA, US or just America. There are fifty states in the union, which is a federal republic ruled by a representative democracy. Nearly ten million square kilometres are inhabited by over 300 million people. The majority of Americans speak English.