Satellite images suggest upcoming Iran rocket launch
- Planet Labs Inc. and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies say that satellite imagery suggests an upcoming rocket launch in Iran.
- Photos show increased vehicle presence and a large shipping container at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Semnan, Iran, which the groups say suggest the presence of an upcoming rocket launch.
- The spaceport has been used in attempted launches of satellites, but US officials told CNN the government sees the rocket launches as furthering Iran's weapons program because the rockets use the same technology as long-range ballistic missiles.
- If it goes forward the launch would not go against the international Iran nuclear agreement.
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Iran appears to be preparing another satellite launch via rocket after twice failing this year to put one in orbit, despite U.S. accusations that the Islamic Republic's program helps it develop ballistic missiles.
Satellite images of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province this month show increased activity at the site, as heightened tensions persist between Washington and Tehran over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.While Iran routinely only announces such launches after the fact, that activity coupled with an official saying a satellite would soon be handed over to the country's Defense Ministry suggests the attempt will be coming soon.
According to two US officials who spoke to CNN, the government believes the launch will further missile development for the country because it utilizes the same technology used in long-range ballistic missiles. The launch does not break the international Iran nuclear deal, however.
Analysis by Planet Labs Inc. and the Middlebury Institute says that increased activity around the launch site suggests upcoming activity. Specifically, the groups note additional vehicles and a large vehicle with a shipping container, which the Middlebury Institute's Dave Schmerler tells CNN suggests that there is a rocket on the premises.