Images suggest Iran launched satellite despite US criticism

This Feb. 6, 2019, satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows an empty launch pad and a burn mark on it at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province. (AP)
Updated 07 February 2019
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Images suggest Iran launched satellite despite US criticism

  • It wasn’t immediately clear if the satellite, if launched, made it into orbit
  • The US alleges such launches defy a UN Security Council resolution

DUBAI: Iran appears to have attempted a second satellite launch despite US criticism that its space program helps the country develop ballistic missiles, satellite images released Thursday suggest. Iran did not immediately acknowledge conducting such a launch.
Images released by the Colorado-based company DigitalGlobe show a rocket at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran’s Semnan province on Tuesday. Images from Wednesday show the rocket was gone with what appears to be burn marks on its launch pad.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the satellite, if launched, made it into orbit.
In the images, words written in Farsi in large characters on the launch pad appeared to say in part “40 years” and “Iranian made,” in different sections. That is likely in reference to the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, which authorities have been celebrating this month.
Iranian state media did not immediately report on the rocket launch, though such delays have happened in previous launches.
Iran has said it would launch its Doosti, or “friendship,” satellite. A launch in January failed to put another satellite, Payam or “message,” into orbit after successfully launching it from the same space center.
DigitalGlobe analysts said the images from Tuesday suggest Iran used a Safir, or “ambassador,” rocket in the launch. In the January launch, engineers used a Simorgh, or “phoenix,” rocket. It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the rocket choice.
The Doosti, a remote-sensing satellite developed by engineers at Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology, was to be launched into a low orbit.
The US alleges such launches defy a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran, which long has said it does not seek nuclear weapons, maintains its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component. Tehran also says they don’t violate a United Nations resolution that only “called upon” it not to conduct such tests.
Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space.
Iran usually displays space achievements in February during the anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution. This year’s 40th anniversary comes amid Iran facing increasing pressure from the US under the administration of President Donald Trump.
The likely launch also comes after a Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi reportedly said Sunday that three researchers died “because of a fire in one of the buildings of the Space Research Center,” without elaborating.


New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

Updated 26 April 2019
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New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

  • The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July
  • Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues

RABAT: The Moroccan government on Thursday announced a “new social deal” with employers and the main labor unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.
The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions — the UMT, UGTM and UNMT — is the fruit of months of negotiations
The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.
Government-paid family allowances will also rise.
Meanwhile public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.
Of Morocco’s main trade unions only the Democratic Labour Confederation has not signed the social deal which, according to the government statement, is aimed at “improving spending power and the social climate.”
Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption.
Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
After months of stalemate, the dossier was handed to the interior ministry at the beginning of the year and the final rounds of talks were held.
The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.