Iranian missiles
Iranian missiles iStock

Iran is preparing to launch a ballistic missile into space, as the Vienna talks on a deal reach a standstill, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

According to the report, satellite photos show preparations at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport, from which Iran operates both its civilian space agency and its military space force. The site has also been used for missile tests.

Satellite images taken by Planet Labs Inc. on Saturday and obtained by AP show activity at the spaceport, including a support vehicle and a hydraulic crane with a railed platform, both of which have appeared in other satellite photos just prior to a launch.

Official Iranian did not report the event, and Iran's representative at the United Nations refused to respond to AP's requests for comment. The US military also refused to respond to the report.

Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies who studies Tehran’s program, told AP, "They’re not walking on eggshells. I think [Iranian President Ebrahim] Raisi’s people have a new balance in mind."

"This is fairly traditional pre-launch activity," he told the AP, adding, "They’re not constrained by worries about the Iran deal in the same way that Rouhani was."

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