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Iran prepares satellite launch, ignoring US warnings

Despite recent warnings from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iran is preparing to launch a remote sensing satellite into space.

Researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, stated that the images, which were taken on Jan. 4, 6 and 7, 2019 by Planet Labs, an American private Earth imaging company, showed activity at Iran’s Aerospace company "Imam Khomeini Space Center."

The recent activity was similar to steps that were taken before the launch of a previous satellite by Iran in 2017.

Despite Pompeo's stance that the launch vehicle contains technology used in ballistic missiles, there is no evidence to prove that the launch is for military purpose. Images show that preparations for the launch of the satellite into orbit are underway.

The satellite will be launched with the help of a Simorgh space launch vehicle which is an Iranian expendable small-capacity orbital carrier rocket.

Jeffrey Lewis, of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said, "The Simorgh is a two-stage space launch vehicle that uses a cluster of four Shahab-3 engines in its first stage and smaller steering engines in its upper stage.”

The photograph captured outside the site's assembly and checkout building on Jan.4 showed a large white shipping container. Analysts believe the white container was likely used to transport the rocket's first stage before its reassembly on the launch pad. Photographs also showed a large vehicle and a fuel truck parked on the site.

"The appearance of this canister is a strong indication that a rocket has been transported to the site and a space launch is likely in the coming weeks," Lewis said.

Earlier this month, Pompeo had warned Iran of new sanctions if it went ahead with its planned satellite launches. He also stated that the country had planned to launch three rockets within the next few months called the Space Launch Vehicles (SLV). He also said, these rockets had technology “virtually identical” of those used in intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime's destructive policies, place international stability and security at risk. We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation,” Pompeo had said in a statement.

"Such actions would once again demonstrate Iran's defiance of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which calls upon the Iranian regime not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles, capable of delivering nuclear weapons. This action includes launching SLVs, which incorporate technology that is virtually identical to that used in ballistic missiles, including in intercontinental ballistic-missiles (ICBMs)," he added.

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