Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo Reuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday condemned Iran’s launching of a satellite in defiance of US warnings against doing so.

“In defiance of the international community & UNSCR 2231, Iran’s regime fired off a space launch vehicle today. The launch yet again shows that Iran is pursuing enhanced missile capabilities that threaten Europe and the Middle East,” tweeted Pompeo.

Iran’s Telecommunications Minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, said on Tuesday morning that the Islamic Republic launched a satellite into space but that it failed to reach orbit.

The Minister explained that the rocket carrying the satellite failed to reach the “necessary speed” required to go into orbit, but promised that scientists would continue their work on the technology.

The launch came despite Pompeo’s warning to Iran earlier this month to cease its efforts to develop ballistic missiles. Pompeo demanded that Iran drop its plans for a space launch, saying such actions would defy UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

UN Security Council resolution 2231, which the US says Iran violates with its ballistic missile tests, enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

The resolution says Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Iran, however, denies its ballistic missile tests violate this resolution. President Hassan Rouhani has stressed that Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense and does not consider that a violation of international agreements.

Zarif last week rejected Pompeo’s warnings, saying the US “is in material breach” of Resolution 2231 “and as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it.”

He later said that Iran will continue with its aerospace program despite US warnings to stop, adding there was no international law prohibiting such a program.