US believes Iran successfully launched satellite into orbit

Pompeo says Iran should be held accountable for launch of military satellite which violated UN Security Council resolution.

Elad Benari ,

Noor satellite launched into orbit by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps
Noor satellite launched into orbit by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps

The United States has assessed that Iran successfully launched a military satellite into orbit for the first time on Wednesday, two US Defense Department officials said, according to CNN.

The move is seen as a significant step because the country's space program utilizes the same technology that would be needed to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile, which would increase Tehran's capability to strike enemy targets.

US Space Command is tracking two objects in orbit that were launched from within Iran, one of the officials said, according to CNN. One is a rocket body and the other is assessed to be the satellite. The rocket body may still be in orbit because the Iranian program is not sophisticated enough to have perfected re-entry into the atmosphere.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said earlier on Wednesday it had successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit.

It claimed that the satellite, named Noor, was launched from the central desert of Iran. CNN has not been able to independently verify the success of the launch.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later called for Iran to be held accountable for the launch of the satellite, adding he thinks the action violated a United Nations Security Council resolution, Reuters reports.

US officials say that Iran’s satellite launches defy UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Resolution 2231 enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States and calls on Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

“I think every nation has an obligation to go to the United Nations and evaluate whether this missile launch was consistent with that Security Council resolution,” Pompeo said at a news conference on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“I don’t think it remotely is, and I think Iran needs to be held accountable for what they have done,” he added.

Wednesday’s launch is not the first time that Iran has attempted to launch a satellite but would be the first time that it has been successful.

A year ago, Iran attempted to launch a satellite into space but failed when the satellite failed to reach orbit.

It made a similar attempt this past February but was again unsuccessful.