Iranian military during parade in Tehran

Iran Claims Military Satellite Launch Success

The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed the launch "expands the realm of our abilities".

Iranian military during parade in Tehran

After months of failed attempts, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) says it has sent a military satellite into orbit.

On its official website, the paramilitary force said the launch from Iran’s Central Desert is the first of its kind to be achieved by Tehran.

There was no independent confirmation of the launch which has raised concerns among experts.

The head of the IRGC, General Hossein Salami, described the satellite as "multifunctional" and a "strategic achievement" that "expands the realm of our abilities".

"The world’s powerful armies do not have a comprehensive defence plan without being in space," he added.

The US and some European nations have previously claimed such launches could help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

However, Western missile experts have questioned the validity of these concerns.

Iran, which has long said it does not seek nuclear weapons, previously maintained its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component. 

The IRGC said the satellite reached an orbit of 425km (264 miles) above Earth's surface, using a previously un-heard of system.

The force said it used a Ghased, or "Messenger”, satellite carrier to put the device into space during a three-stage launch. The satellite was referred to as "Noor", or light.

Fabian Hinz, a researcher at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, said the launch "raises a lot of red flags".

Tensions between Iran and the US have increased after an incident in the Gulf last week (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Iran has failed with several satellite launches in recent months - the latest in February.

However, the successful launch comes amid heightened tensions with the US.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he has instructed the US Navy "to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea".

It comes after an incident in the Gulf last week, involving the US Navy and the IRGC. 

The American military has also been focusing on space and in December, launched the US Space Force.

The service is tasked with monitoring around 25,000 satellites and in January, it was used to detect Iranian missiles being fired towards US troops in Iraq, following the death of top Iranian General Qasseem Soleimani.

The general was killed by a US air strike in Baghdad and saw tensions between the two countries reach a boiling point.

Cover image: Library image of an Iranian military parade (Picture: PA).