PARIS, LONDON: France on Wednesday condemned a failed Iranian satellite launch that it said used technology applicable to long-range missiles and urged Tehran to stop all ballistic tests which are not in line with UN resolutions.
It was the latest in a string of French comments expressing irritation at Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program despite attempts over the last two years by France and other European powers to open talks on the subject with Iranian authorities.
“The Iranian ballistic program is a source of concern for the international community and France,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.
Iran’s bid to send a satellite into orbit failed on Tuesday as the space vehicle, named Payam, did not reach adequate speed in the third stage of the launch.
Ignoring US and European warnings to avoid such activity, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would be ready for a new satellite launch in a few months. “We have achieved great success in building satellites and launching them. That means we are on the right track,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by state media.
“The remaining problems are minor, will be resolved in a few months, and we will soon be ready for a new launch.”
Iran, which considers its space program a matter of national pride, has said its space-vehicle launches and missile tests are not violations of UN resolutions and would continue.
Iran has repeatedly denied any intent to develop nuclear weapons and curbed its disputed uranium enrichment program under a 2015 deal with world powers.
But the pact is now at risk after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from it, in part because it did not cover Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran.
Western powers are concerned that the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads.
“We call on Iran not to proceed with new ballistic missile tests designed to be able to carry nuclear weapons, including space launchers, and urge Iran to respect its obligations under all UN Security Council resolutions,” von der Muhll said.
The US warned Iran this month against undertaking three planned rocket launches that it said would violate a UN Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology.