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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Israeli Satellite Photo Allegedly Shows Cleanup Effort at Iranian Spaceport Days After Failed Rocket Launch

Sputnik News

13:04 08.09.2019(updated 13:15 08.09.2019)

Last week, the US slapped sanctions on Iran's Space Agency, Space Research Centre and Astronautics Research Institute following the August 29 explosion of a rocket on the launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre in northern Iran.

Israeli satellite intelligence company ImageSat International has released a satellite image it claims shows support vehicles removed from the area around the launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Semnan province, northern Iran.

The image, whose authenticity could not be independently verified, was dated September 2, and led ImageSat to conclude that the Safir rocket mobile erector launcher system would "be probably removed soon" as well.

The satellite image was released following the US Treasury's announcement earlier this week that it would be sanctioning Iranian space-related organisations.

On Monday, Iranian authorities formally acknowledged that a rocket had exploded due to a malfunction during testing, but said the rocket involved was a test rocket with no satellite onboard.

US President Donald Trump caught flak last week for tweeting what appeared to be a US intelligence image reportedly showing the damage at the launch site after it was claimed that the snap may have come from a highly secretive US intelligence-gathering satellite. Trump later told reporters that he had "the absolute right to do so." The US president also sarcastically wished Iran "best wishes and good luck" following the rocket launch failure, emphasising that the US was "not involved in the catastrophic accident."

An Iranian minister later taunted Trump by tweeting a selfie of himself next to a Nahid-1 communication satellite, showing the device intact amid fears that the rocket launch failure may have destroyed the satellite as well.

The failure of the rocket launch on August 29 was confirmed to Reuters by an anonymous Iranian official, who said the failure was caused by "some technical issues" which caused the rocket to explode. The same day, satellite imaging companies showed the rocket's remains, with the rocket itself apparently still standing at its erector platform, with smoke billowing from the site.

The US, its European allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel have each complained about Iran's space programme, alleging that it poses a threat to regional security. Tehran maintains that it has every right to pursue a peaceful space programme under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Iran is a founding member of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and one of just a handful of countries in the world with an active, fully indigenous space programme. The Iranian Space Agency was formally established in 2004, and Iran has successfully launched multiple satellites into orbit over the last decade, despite modest financing of as little as $4.6 million per year.

Sputnik



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