Trump defends tweeting sensitive photo of Iran launch site

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE said Friday he had the "absolute right" to release a detailed photo of the site of a failed satellite launch in Iran after experts suggested the picture contained sensitive information.

The president commented on the photo, which he had tweeted out earlier in the day, to reporters before leaving the White House for Camp David for the Labor Day weekend.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I just wish Iran well. They had a big problem. And we had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do. And we’ll see what happens," Trump said.

He called the launch attempt a "big mishap."

An Iranian official told Reuters the attempt to launch a satellite into space failed due to “technical issues.”

The president in his earlier tweet denied that the U.S. had played any role.

A short time later, NPR reported that experts believed the image was of higher quality than most readily available depictions of the launch site. The high resolution suggested that it may have been a government photo, and that Trump may have released sensitive or classified information in tweeting it out.

Trump previously faced criticism for sharing classified intelligence with the Russian ambassador during a 2017 Oval Office meeting. He offered a similar defense after that incident, tweeting that he had "the absolute right" to do so.

U.S. presidents have the authority to declassify almost any intelligence material.

Iran’s defense ministry announced at the beginning of the year that it planned to conduct three space launches this year.

Because the rockets incorporate the same technology used for missiles, the United States has argued that the launches violate a United Nations Security Council resolution in which Iran “is called upon” not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles.