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Pompeo condemns Iran's launch of military satellite

Pompeo condemns Iran's launch of military satellite
© Bonnie Cash

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE hammered Iran over its recent launch of a military satellite, dismissing claims from Tehran that its space program is intended for peaceful purposes. 

“For years, Iran has claimed its space program is purely peaceful and civilian. The Trump Administration has never believed this fiction. This week’s launch of a military satellite by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, makes clear what we have said all along: Iran’s space program is neither peaceful nor entirely civilian,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Iran raised eyebrows Wednesday when it successfully launched its first military satellite into orbit, fueling speculation over whether the technology used to send off the satellite could also be employed to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

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“This satellite launch vehicle and others launched before it incorporate technologies identical to, and interchangeable with, ballistic missiles, including longer-range systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)," Pompeo said. "No country has ever pursued an ICBM capability except for the purpose of delivering nuclear weapons.

“All peace-loving nations must reject Iran’s development of ballistic-missile capable technologies and join together to constrain Iran’s dangerous missile programs,” he added. 

Wednesday’s launch followed several failures by Iran to put a satellite into orbit. The most recent attempt was in February, when Tehran tried to put its Zafar 1 communications satellite into orbit.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have steadily risen since 2018 when President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the landmark nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, setting off worries that Tehran would develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

The two nations nearly went to war earlier this year after the U.S. assassinated Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top commander who was a revered figure in the country but was blamed by the Pentagon for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. Iran has since had its proxies fire rockets at military bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq and deployed ships to harass U.S. vessels in international waters.