Iran says launched military satellite into orbit, US tensions simmer

Iran said it put its first military satellite into orbit Wednesday, making it an emerging “world power”, as US President Donald Tump issued a new threat amid rising naval tensions in the Gulf.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps broke the news of what it said was its own satellite launch, hailing it as a milestone for the country s space programme.

“Today, we are looking at the Earth from the sky, and it is the beginning of the formation of a world power,” the Guards  commander Hossein Salami said, quoted by Fars news agency.

The United States alleges that Iran s satellite programme is a cover for its development of missiles, including ones that could one day carry nuclear warheads.

Iran maintains it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, and says its aerospace activities are peaceful and comply with a UN Security Council resolution.

Tensions between the arch foes again escalated last week with the US accusing Iran of harassing its ships in the Gulf.

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to say he had “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea”.

Sepahnews, the Revolutionary Guards  website, said the satellite dubbed the Nour — meaning “light” in Persian — had been launched from the Markazi desert, a vast expanse in Iran s central plateau.

The satellite “orbited the Earth at 425 kilometres (264 miles)” above sea level, said Sepahnews.

Iran s regional rival Israel said it “strongly condemns” what it called Iran s “attempt” to launch a military satellite.

It urged more international sanctions for what it called “a facade” for Iran s continued development of advanced missiles, including ones that could deliver a nuclear warhead.

Trump s hawkish former national security adviser John Bolton said the launch was “proof we are still not applying enough pressure” on Iran.

“Iran s goal remains ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) capable of carrying nuclear weapons. They cannot be trusted,” he tweeted.

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