February 26, 2021

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Iran says it launched satellite amid US tensions

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said on Wednesday that it launched a military satellite into orbit amid wider tensions with the United States, a successful launch after months of failures.

There was no immediate independent confirmation of the launch of the satellite, which the IRG called “Noor,” meaning light.

The US State Department and the Pentagon, which say that such launches advance Iran’s ballistic missile program, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On its official website, the Guard said the satellite successfully reached an orbit of 425 km above the Earth’s surface. The two-stage satellite launch took off from Iran’s Central Desert, the Guard said, without elaborating.

The paramilitary force said it used a Ghased, or “messenger,” satellite carrier to put the device into space, a previously unheard-of system.

The launch comes amid tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal and after a US drone strike killed Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January.

Iran has suffered several failed satellite launches in recent months.

On Sunday, the Guard acknowledged it had a tense encounter with US warships in the Persian Gulf last week, but alleged without offering evidence that American forces sparked the incident.