Iran announced on Wednesday that it had successfully launched an imaging satellite into space. The satellite, named Noor-3, was placed in an orbit 450 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, according to Iran’s Communication Minister Isa Zarepour. The exact date of the launch was not disclosed.
Western officials have not acknowledged the launch or confirmed the satellite being in orbit. The U.S. military has not responded to requests for comment. Iran has experienced a series of failed launches in recent years, but this launch was carried out by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which has had more success in its space program.
General Hossein Salami, the top commander of the Revolutionary Guard, described the launch as a “victory” and stated that the satellite would collect data and images. Authorities released footage of a rocket taking off from a mobile launcher, which was believed to have occurred at a Guard base near Shahroud.
Iran’s space program operates from the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Semnan province. The Revolutionary Guard operates its own space program and military infrastructure, independent from Iran’s regular armed forces. Western sanctions prevent Iran from importing advanced spying technology.
The United States has accused Iran of defying a UN Security Council resolution with its satellite launches and has urged Tehran to refrain from activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The U.S. intelligence community’s 2022 threat assessment claims that Iran’s development of satellite launch vehicles could shorten the timeline for its intercontinental ballistic missile program.
Iran maintains that its space program is for purely civilian purposes and denies seeking nuclear weapons. U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency have stated that Iran ended its military nuclear program in 2003.