- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2020

Iran failed to launch a satellite into orbit Sunday, state media reported, marking the country’s latest unsuccessful attempt for a program the U.S. believes is aimed at furthering Tehran’s nuclear weapons development.

The rocket used to launch the Zafar 1 communications satellite fell short of reaching the necessary speed to put the device into orbit.

“Stage-1 and stage-2 motors of the carrier functioned properly and the satellite was successfully detached from its carrier, but at the end of its path it did not reach the required speed for being put in the orbit,” Iran’s defense ministry space program spokesman Ahmad Hosseini told state media, adding that the attempt was a “remarkable” accomplishment.

While Iran maintained the satellite was intended to gather geographic imagery and data to analyze earthquakes, natural disasters and agricultural information, the U.S. has warned the launch could be part of Iran’s ballistic missile development.

Iran has successfully launched three satellites since 2009, with two failed attempts last year.

The latest unsuccessful attempt came amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran and just over a month after the U.S. killed a top Iranian military commander, which led Iran to launch a missile strike on a U.S. military base in Iraq.

Despite Iran’s claims that it has not explored nuclear weapons development, the U.S. has expressed concerns that the long-range ballistic missile technology used to launch the satellites could be part of a longer term effort to launch nuclear weapons.

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