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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Iran space breakthrough ruffles feathers in US

Tue, 03 Feb 2009 23:30:21 GMT

The United States accused Iran of seeking a weaponized nuclear program shortly after the country made its first satellite launch.

Washington said that Tehran is threatening the security of Israel with the lift-off of satellite carriers capable of launching heavy nuclear warheads, AP reported.

Commenting on Iran's first domestically produced satellite Omid ('Hope' in Persian), which was launched on Monday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, ``This action does not convince us that Iran is acting responsibly to advance stability or security in the region.''

Gibbs stated that the Islamic Republic's missile launch capacities are in line with the country's alleged nuclear project meant to intimidate Israel.

He added that the Obama administration would continue to study Iran's moves with 'acute concern.'

However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a softer tone on Iran.

Speaking after a meeting with British Foreign Minister David Miliband in Washington, Clinton said, "It is clear that... Iran has an opportunity to step up and become a productive member of the international community," adding, "As President Obama said, we are reaching out a hand [to Iran] but the fist has to unclench."

France, Germany, and Britain have all said that the launch of Iran's telecommunications satellite is cause for “great concern”.

Iran successfully placed its first domestically produced satellite in orbit at an altitude of between 250 and 400 km.

The Omid satellite has been designed to circumnavigate the Earth on an ecliptic trajectory 15 times per day and return data to the Iranian space center.

Iran also has plans to send its first manned mission into space within ten years.

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