Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have successfully launched a new military imaging satellite, according to state media reports. The Nour-3 imaging satellite was placed in orbit 450 kilometers above Earth, carried by the three-stage Qassed satellite carrier. This launch follows the successful placement of its predecessors, Nour-1 in 2020 and Nour-2 in 2022.
The aerospace wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was responsible for this launch. IRGC commander Hossein Salami stated that the new satellite will provide higher resolution images, meeting the intelligence needs of the Guards. However, Western governments, including the United States, have expressed concerns about Iran’s aerospace technology, fearing that it could be utilized for ballistic missiles, including those designed to carry a nuclear warhead.
Iran has consistently maintained that its satellite and rocket launches are for civil or defense purposes, denying any pursuit of nuclear weapons. The country has faced numerous satellite launch failures in the past. The successful launch of its first military satellite, Nour-1, in April 2020 drew strong criticism from the US.
This latest achievement comes at a time when Iran is under significant economic pressure due to crippling US sanctions. The sanctions were imposed after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, which aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, recently mentioned a proposal from Japan to revive nuclear talks with the United States. Diplomatic ties between Iran and the US have been severed since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution. However, Iran has repeatedly emphasized its commitment to peaceful activities and has denied any intention to develop nuclear weapons.