Iran's Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi says the "Zafar satellite" will be launched by the end of this week, a programme the US sees as camouflage for Tehran's missile development.

This picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defence Ministry on Thursday, July 27, 2017, claims to show the Simorgh satellite-carrying rocket at Imam Khomeini National Space Center in an undisclosed location, Iran. [File]
This picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defence Ministry on Thursday, July 27, 2017, claims to show the Simorgh satellite-carrying rocket at Imam Khomeini National Space Center in an undisclosed location, Iran. [File] (AP Archive)

Iran will launch a satellite into orbit by the end of this week, a government minister said on Monday, as part of a programme that the US says is a cover for ballistic missile development.

"We are not afraid of failure and we will not lose hope. With your prayers and trust in God, the Zafar satellite by the end of this week ... will be heading toward an orbit of 530 km from Earth," Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted.

Iran had at least two failed satellite launches last year.

The United States says long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. 

Tehran denies that satellite activity is a cover for missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

US-Iran tensions

The administration of US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran following Washington's 2018 withdrawal from an international accord designed to curb Iran's nuclear program.

Trump said the nuclear deal did not go far enough and did not include restrictions on Tehran's missile program.

Tensions have reached the highest level in decades between Iran and the United States after Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike on January 3, prompting Iran to retaliate with a missile attack against a US base in Iraq.

Iran launched its first satellite Omid (Hope) in 2009 and the Rasad (Observation) satellite was sent into orbit in June 2011. 

Tehran said in 2012 that it had successfully put its third domestically made satellite Navid (Promise) into orbit.

Source: Reuters