Iran Launches Third Satelite
Iranian officials announced they have successfully launched a new satellite into orbit, the latest in the Islamic Republic's space program.
Iran's state news agency IRNA said the satellite was launched Friday. It is reportedly designed to collect data on weather conditions and monitor for natural disasters.
IRNA also said the Navid, or Gospel in Farsi, weighs some 110 pounds and will orbit the earth at an altitude of up to 234 miles (375 kilometers).
Navid is the third small satellite Iran has launched in recent years. None have had a life-span of much more than a month.
It falls into a class of miniaturized or microsatellites, which are cheaper to build and allow for more inexpensive launch vehicles.
Iran also has plans to launch monkey into space, much as the United States did in the 1960's, by 2020.
Iran's space program has raised concerns because the same technology that allows missiles to launch satellites can be used to fire warheads.
Israel, the United States, other Western nations, and their Gulf Arabs charge Iran with pursuing a 'secret' nuclear weapons development program.
While Iran denies the charge, the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported Iran has sought – and continues to seek – nuclear technology of a military nature.
Senior Israeli officials this week, amid an extensive raft of sanctions from the West that have not deterred Iran, have gone on record saying the window for military action is closing.
Iran has agreed to a new round of talks with IAEA officials over its nuclear program in late February. However, many believe Tehran is simply attempting to buy time while its nuclear program continues apace.
It is widely believed Israel, which Iranian leaders have called a "one bomb state" while calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, is mulling a pre-emptive military strike by June.
Israel sees Iran’s nuclear program as a potentially existential threat. Senior Iranian officials have issued repeated calls for Israel’s destruction and backed terror groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah.
Tehran has also referred to Israel as a “one bomb state.”