Iran to build 4 new satellites

Announcement comes less than a week after Iran launched its first homemade satellite into space.

iran satellite 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
iran satellite 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Iran is working on four new domestically manufactured satellites, Iran's communications minister has announced. Minister Muhammad Suleimani did not say when the satellites would be completed or for what purpose they would be used. The announcement on Sunday came less than a week after Iran launched its first homemade satellite into space. The Omid ("Hope" in Persian) satellite was launched last Tuesday by the locally produced satellite carrier, Safir 2. The satellite will circle Earth between one and three months. Iran insists the satellite is not being used for military purposes, but the launching sparked concerns among Western nations, which pointed out that its satellite technology was linked to ballistic capabilities. The concern in the West is not about the satellites themselves, but more concerning what their launch indicates, defense expert Francis Tusa said. "Unless these are proven surveillance satellites, which have a pretty sophisticated technology, I think that at this stage it's more about the fact that they can launch objects into orbit," Tusa, editor of Defense Analysis, told The Media Line. "This demonstrates that in the future they might be able to put a surveillance system up there, and that their missile technology is suitable for the task," he said. Iranian spiritual leader Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that sanctions against his country were making it stronger and more self-reliant, rather than weakening its capabilities. Muhammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Omid's launch into space was accompanied by similar political, economic, cultural and scientific achievements. Iran has been under international pressure since 2002 to abandon its controversial nuclear program, for fear that is being used to manufacture nuclear weapons secretly. Iran is already subject to several sets of United Nations economic sanctions. Teheran insists it will not suspend its enrichment of uranium, a key component of the nuclear process, and upholds its right to possess nuclear technology. Although the new administration in Washington is talking about seeking a channel of communication with Iran, signaling a more conciliatory approach toward the Islamic Republic, it has implied that the military option is still not off the table.