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Iran Launches First Homemade Satellite

By VOA News
03 February 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is hailing the announced launch of his nation's first domestically-built satellite as a gift to the people of Iran.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said Tuesday the satellite - named (Omid) Hope - was put in orbit late Monday. Media outlets said it was carried into space by an Iranian-made (Safir-2) Ambassador-2 rocket.

The announcement comes as Iran marks the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

France's Foreign Ministry voiced concern about the report. A spokesman said the technology used was similar to that employed in ballistic missiles.

Iran has long held the goal of developing a space program, generating unease among world leaders already concerned about Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The West fears technology used to launch a space rocket could be diverted into development of long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran says the satellite will be used for peaceful observation of the environment.

France, Germany, the United States, China, Russia and Britain have been trying to persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium, which could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Western leaders have said Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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