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Iran has launched a research rocket to inaugurate a newly built space centre.
The test-launch for the country's first low-orbit research satellite was shown on Iranian state television to cries of "God is Great" from the announcer.
Correspondents say advances in Tehran's missile technology are likely to alarm Western powers, as Iran presses on with a controversial nuclear programme.
The Safir (Emissary) was launched into space Monday, Feb. 4, on top of the improved Shahab-3 which has a 4,000 km range. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Iranian launch was Tehran’s rejoinder to Israel’s test of a new long-range missile propulsion engine on Jan. 17. Western experts reported at the time that Israel’s newly-powered missiles could reach “any point on earth.” The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was present for the test Monday. DEBKAfile’s military sources report Safir-1 was fired from a missile base in the Semnan Desert southeast of Tehran. He also inaugurated Iran’s first space research center and announced that the Ormid (“Hope”) satellite would be placed in orbit “in the near future.” Our military sources disclose that while Tehran’s space program is in its infancy, the Iranians are capable of a crash program for cutting down the gestation period for producing a military space satellite, as they proved in their nuclear effort.