TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s defense minister says construction is being completed on a new space center from where domestically made satellites will be launched into orbit.

Gen. Ahmad Vahidi’s comments were the first confirmation that Iran is building a new space facility amid its standoff with the West over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

The official IRNA news agency quoted Vahidi as saying the new center will be named after the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Vahidi didn’t say where the new facility is located.

Iran’s ambitious space program has raised concerns in the West because of possible military applications. The same rocket technology used to send satellites into orbit can also be retooled to make intercontinental warheads.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.