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US says second Iranian SLV launch failed in June

Iran attempted a second, previously unreported satellite launch in June, the United States ambassador to the United Nations revealed in a letter to the UN Security Council that was released on 30 August.

“On 12 June the United States became aware that Iran had launched a space launch vehicle [SLV], but that the vehicle failed to accomplish its mission of placing a satellite into orbit,” the letter said. “In addition, on 21 June Iran launched a Simorgh space launch vehicle, but the launch did not successfully place a satellite into orbit.”

The 12 June launch was previously reported on 23 June by CNN, which cited US officials as saying that it was unclear why or at what stage the rocket failed. It also noted that satellite imagery showed increased activity around the heavy SLV pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre on 20 June, suggesting a Simorgh SLV was being prepared for launch.

The US letter to the Security Council argued that Iran is banned from carrying out SLV launches under Security Council Resolution 2231 as the rockets “incorporate technologies that are virtually identical to, and interchangeable with, those used in ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons”.

Iran has responded to similar complaints in the past by arguing that it is free to continue to develop and test ballistic missiles and SLVs as they are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.

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