Iran said Saturday it had conducted a successful satellite launch into its highest orbit yet, the latest for a program the West fears improves Tehran’s ballistic missiles.
The announcement comes as heightened tensions grip the wider Middle East over Israel's ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and just days after Iran and Pakistan engaged in tit-for-tat airstrikes in each others' countries.
The Soraya satellite was placed in an orbit at 750 kilometers (about 460 miles) above the Earth's surface with a three-stage rocket, the state-run IRNA news agency said. It did not immediately acknowledge what the satellite did.
The launch was part of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' space program alongside Iran's civilian space program, the report said.
There was no immediate independent confirmation Iran had successfully put the satellite in orbit.
The United States has previously said Iran’s satellite launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution and called on Tehran to undertake no activity involving ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. U.N. sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program expired last October.
The U.S. intelligence community’s 2023 worldwide threat assessment said the development of satellite launch vehicles “shortens the timeline” for Iran to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile because it uses similar technology.