The announcement comes as talks held in Vienna to revive an agreement restraining Iran's nuclear programme reach a critical stage.

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched its first Noor satellite in 2020, revealing to the world it ran its own space programme.
Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched its first Noor satellite in 2020, revealing to the world it ran its own space programme. (Reuters)

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched a second satellite into space just as world powers awaited Tehran's decision in negotiations over the country's tattered nuclear deal.

State television on Tuesday identified the launch as coming in Shahroud Desert without specifying when the launch took place. 

However, it came as Iran’s top diplomat at the months-long talks suddenly flew home late Monday for consultations, a sign of the growing pressure on Tehran as the negotiations appear to be nearing their end. 

The Guard said the Noor-2 satellite reached a low orbit on the Ghased satellite carrier, IRNA reported. It described the Ghased as a three-phase, mixed fuel satellite carrier.

US officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The launch comes days after satellite pictures suggested Iran's civilian program suffered another failed launch.

Noor means “light” in Farsi. The Guard launched its first Noor satellite in 2020, revealing to the world it ran its own space program.

READ MORE: Astropolitics: Iran’s failed satellite launch and its nuclear diplomacy win

The head of the US Space Command later dismissed the satellite as “a tumbling webcam in space” that wouldn’t provide Iran vital intelligence – though it showed Tehran’s ability to successfully get into orbit after a series of setbacks.

The US has alleged Iran’s satellite launches defy a UN Security Council resolution and has called on Tehran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Talks on Iran's nuclear deal

Iran, which long has said it does not seek nuclear weapons, previously maintained that its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component. US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Iran abandoned an organiSed military nuclear program in 2003.

Meanwhile, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency described negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani's trip home as being “within the framework of the usual consultations during the talks.” 

However, the top negotiator for the European Union seemed to suggest whether the talks succeeded or failed now rested with the Islamic Republic.

READ MORE: Iran satellite 'successfully' launched without reaching orbit

“There are no longer ‘expert level talks’ nor ‘formal meetings',” Enrique Mora wrote on Twitter, responding to comments by an Iranian analyst. “It is time, in the next few days, for political decisions to end the #ViennaTalks. The rest is noise.”

Mora's comments mirror those of British and French negotiators at the Vienna talks, which has been working to find a way to get America back into the accord it unilaterally abandoned in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump. 

It also hopes to get Iran to again agree to measures that drastically scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Source: AP