Donald Trump denies U.S. involvement in Iranian rocket launch failure

Iran tried and failed to launch a satellite into space in January, according to Iranian Communications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari.

Rocket launch in Iran (photo credit: FARS)
Rocket launch in Iran
(photo credit: FARS)
US President Donald Trump denied any US involvement in the Iranian rocket which apparently exploded on the launch pad on Thursday in an attempt to send a satellite into orbit.
"The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran," Trump tweeted on Friday afternoon. "I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One."

An Iranian rocket apparently exploded on the launch pad on Thursday, according to NPR.
Images of the Imam Khomeini Space Center showed increased activity in recent weeks at the site, following a recent official statement which said that a satellite will soon be delivered to the Islamic Republic's defense ministry.
The Imam Kohmeini  Space Center is usually "quite quiet," according to Fabian Heinz, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. "It's very likely that something is going on," said Heinz.
Satellite imagery showed smoke rising from the pad a few days later, with the rocket still attached to the machines erecting it for launch.
A senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute who analyzed the images, said that it "looks like the space launch vehicle blew up on the launch pad," according to NPR.
Michael Elleman, Director of the Nonproliferation and Nuclear Policy Program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that it seems to be an "accident during launch preparation," according to the report.
Elleman additionally said that the Trump administration's claim that Iran may use its space program to develop missiles is "a real stretch," adding that he does not know "of a single satellite launcher that's been converted into a ballistic missile."
The US warned Iran against the space program, comparing it to the testing of ballistic missiles, in the beginning of the year shortly after the country withdrew from Syria where it had presumably helped constrain Iran's military ambitions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo adivised Iran "to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and dimplomatic isolation."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the country would do no such thing, stating: "There is no international law that prohibits us from [continuing]."
A few days after Zarif's message, Iranian Communications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari said that Iran had tried and failed to launch a satellite into space, saying that the rocket carrying the satellite "failed to reach the required speed in the third stage, even though it succeeded in the first two stages of the launch."
Iran said in April that it would launch three satellites into orbit this year.
"The rockets which have currently been developed in Iran for carrying satellites are not something that are a cover for another kind of rocket activity,” Azari said at the time during a conference in Geneva.