Tests concluded, Iran prepares for launching of satellites

Telecommunications minister says preparations have been successful ahead of planned launch criticized by Washington as violating Security Council resolution

Iran's communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi speaks in a TV interview on August 13, 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)
Iran's communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi speaks in a TV interview on August 13, 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)

TEHRAN — Iran’s telecommunications minister said Saturday his country’s three new satellites have successfully passed pre-launch tests.

In a tweet, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said: “Last night, Iranian satellites passed tests successfully.” He did not mention a launch schedule.

On Tuesday, Iran said it plans to send Payam, a 200-pound (90-kilogram) non-military satellite into a 310-mile (500-kilometer) orbit using an Iranian Simorgh satellite-carrier rocket.

Iran usually displays space achievements in February during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran’s plans for sending three satellites into orbit demonstrate the country’s defiance of a UN Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iran says the launch does not violate the resolution.

On Friday an Iranian naval commander said Iran was set to deploy a fleet of warships to the western Atlantic Ocean in the coming months, in an apparent bid to counter the presence of a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani told the state-run IRNA news site the flotilla of warships would depart for the Atlantic in March, and the mission would take several months.

The flotilla announcement is likely intended to boost Iran’s military image amid rising tensions with the United States, which in November re-imposed all sanctions lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

In December, the US deployed an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, the first since America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and breaking the longest carrier absence in the volatile region since at least the 9/11 terror attacks.

A day after the arrival of the USS John C. Stennis, Iran launched a military drill in the waterway’s strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.

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