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article imageIran challenges Obama: launches its first homemade satellite

By Adriana Stuijt     Feb 3, 2009 in Politics
Iran's state-news agency has released a video of a rocket which just launched its first home-made satellite into orbit. Iran's launch also was a clear challenge to President Obama's reconciliation efforts with this Islamic revolutionary government..
The Iranian state-media was jubilant, describing it as 'another achievement for Iranian scientists under sanctions'. when it launched its first homemade Omid satellite into orbit., they said. "It was carried into orbit by the Irananian-made satellite-carrier (i.e. a rocket), the Safir,' the Iranian state-media announcement said.
Its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed the launch as an historic event to expand monotheism.
Western media noted that the launch could hamper conciliation efforts by US president Barack Obama.
The announcement of the Omid's launch comes as officials from the US, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and China are scheduled to meet near Frankfurt this week to talk about Iran's nuclear program.
The reports said the Omid was 'equipped with experimental satellite control devices and power supply systems and was designed for gathering information and testing equipment.'
The Iran president said the satellite had reached its orbit and had made contact with ground stations, although not all of its functions were active yet.
The Guardian newspaper in the UK reports that the launch 'could complicate conciliation efforts by the US president, Barack Obama, by highlighting concerns about Iran's nuclear programme, which the west fears is aimed at producing an atomic bomb.
While Tehran insists the satellite will enable it to improve phone and internet technology and to track natural disasters, western analysts have warned that it would create the capacity to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are guided using satellite technology.
Today's launch makes Iran the 11th country to put a satellite into orbit since the Soviet Union launched the first in 1957.It comes almost exactly a year after Iran launched the Kavosh-I (Explorer-1), a rocket capable of carrying satellites into space. That event, which also marked the opening of an Iranian space centre at an undisclosed desert location, was condemned as "unfortunate" by the US.
It was followed by months of careful rehearsals for today's event, which included the launch of a dummy satellite last August and the firing of a second rocket, the Kavosh-2, into space in November.
Iranian scientists have been working on a space programme for at least a decade. Early efforts involved co-operation with Russia.
In October 2005, a Russian rocket launched Iran's first satellite, the Sina-1, which carried photographic and telecommunications equipment.
The announcement of the Omid's launch comes as officials from the US, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and China are due to meet near Frankfurt tomorrw to talk about Iran's nuclear program.
The group has offered Iran a package of incentives if it suspends uranium enrichment and enters into talks on its nuclear program. The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions to pressure Iran to comply.
Speaking at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, insisted the country's new satellite was for "peaceful purposes". He accused western powers of 'being intent on depriving Iran of the latest technological developments.'
"Iran's satellite technology is for purely peaceful purposes and to meet the needs of the country," he said.
"Satellites are a very essential means of gathering environmental data, climate data... and lots of necessary information that we need for technological, agricultural and economic projects," he said.
"The difference between our country and some countries which have these capacities is that we believe science belongs to all humanity. Some people believe that advanced technologies belong to some countries exclusively.
"In Iran's history, in the last 100 years, you cannot point to aggression by Iran." Guardian report here
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