Tehran, 29 September 2023 (TDI): Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has achieved a significant milestone by successfully launching the Noor 3 imaging satellite into orbit, according to official sources.

This marks the third version of the Noor satellite series, which translates to “light” in Persian. The Noor 3 satellite is positioned in a low orbit approximately 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the Earth’s surface.

The launch was conducted using the Qased, or “messenger,” carrier developed by the IRGC’s aerospace division.

The Noor satellite program has been a point of contention with Western nations, who have expressed concerns that the technology used for satellite launches could potentially be adapted for longer-range weapons, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denied these allegations and maintained that its activities are purely for peaceful purposes.

The first iteration of the Noor satellite was successfully launched in April 2020, making it Iran’s first military reconnaissance satellite, following several previous failed attempts.

The second version reached a low orbit of 500 kilometers (310 miles) in early 2022, utilizing a mixed-fuel carrier.

Despite criticism and concerns raised by Western countries, Iranian officials have reaffirmed their commitment to expanding their satellite program. They plan to launch several more satellites into different orbits in the near future.

In August 2022, Iran successfully launched a satellite, owned by Iran and built in Russia, capable of capturing high-resolution images.

Western allies have raised concerns that these developments may potentially violate a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution associated with the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, as the technology could be repurposed for military applications.

Iran consistently denies these allegations and emphasizes the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), remains in a state of uncertainty after the United States (US) unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed severe sanctions on Iran.

Iranian officials have indicated their willingness to return to the JCPOA, but they insist on seeing a genuine commitment from Western parties, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

One clause of the JCPOA, set to be automatically lifted in the near future, relates to restrictions on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles.

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However, lingering tensions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, as well as Western accusations of Iran providing drones to Russia for the conflict in Ukraine, have led European powers to announce their intention to maintain their sanctions on Iran, despite this clause.

The successful launch of the Noor 3 satellite represents a significant technological achievement for Iran and underscores its determination to continue its satellite program despite international scrutiny and geopolitical complexities.