Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has accomplished one more achievement by successfully placing its third imaging satellite, named Noor-3, into orbit. This accomplishment highlights Iran’s assurance to extend its presence in space despite ongoing tensions with Western nations.
On September 2023, Iran’s aerospace division of the elite military force, the IRGC, made history by launching the Noor-3 satellite into low Earth orbit.
This latest addition to Iran’s satellite program, which means “light” in Persian, was placed in an orbit approximately 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
Like its predecessors, Noor-3 was carried into space using the Qased carrier, which translates to “messenger” in Persian.
The journey of Iran’s satellite program started with the successful launch of the first version, Noor-1, in April 2020. This accomplishment denoted a huge achievement for Iran as it turned into the first military reconnaissance satellite launched by the country after several failed attempts.
Noor-1 was positioned in an orbit approximately 425 kilometers (265 miles) above the Earth’s surface. Building on this success, Iran launched the second version, Noor-2, into a low orbit of 500 kilometers (310 miles) in early 2022.
This time, the satellite was transported using a mixed-fuel carrier. The consecutive successful launches of Noor-1 and Noor-2 showcased Iran’s growing capabilities in the field of satellite technology.
Noor-3, the latest addition to the series, reaffirms Iran’s commitment to expanding its satellite program, despite facing criticism and concerns from Western nations.
As news about the Noor-3 satellite launch spread, Western authorities stayed quiet, avoiding prompt remarks or responses.
This reticence may reflect the ongoing tensions between Iran and Western powers, particularly the United States. Western worries basically rotate around the potential double use nature of Iran’s satellite program.
Critics argue that the technology used for satellite launches could be adapted for military purposes, including the development of long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
This concern has led to suggestions that Iran’s satellite activities may violate a United Nations Security Council resolution related to the country’s 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran has consistently dismissed these claims, emphasizing that its nuclear program and satellite initiatives are entirely peaceful in nature.
The nation keeps up with that its space program is planned for civilian purposes and seeks to enhance its technological capabilities, scientific research, and communication infrastructure.
The backdrop to these developments is the Iran Nuclear Deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The JCPOA has remained in limbo since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran.
Efforts to revive the JCPOA have faced numerous hurdles, with Iran insisting on seeing concrete political resolve from Western parties, which include France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, before returning to the accord.
One aspect of the JCPOA that has garnered attention is the automatic lifting of certain restrictions on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, set to occur in the near future.
However, despite this provision, tensions continue to simmer over Iran’s nuclear program and allegations that it has supplied drones to Russia for the conflict in Ukraine.
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