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Iranian Leader Vows To Launch Satellites, Defying U.S. Warnings

A Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite rocket is seen at its launch site at an undisclosed location, July 27, 2017
A Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite rocket is seen at its launch site at an undisclosed location, July 27, 2017

Iran soon will put two satellites into orbit using domestically made rockets, President Hassan Rouhani has said, despite U.S. concerns that the launches could help further develop the country's ballistic missiles.

"Soon, in the coming weeks, we will send two satellites into space using our domestically-made rockets," Rouhani said on January 10 during a commemoration for the late President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iranian state television reported.

He gave no further details about the rockets and satellites.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran not to proceed with "provocative" plans to launch three rockets, called Space Launch Vehicles (SLV), claiming they were "virtually identical" to nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and would violate a UN resolution.

"The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime's destructive policies place international stability and security at risk," Pompeo said in a January 3 statement.

Resolution 2231, which enshrined Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, called on Tehran "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons."

Tehran, which considers its space program a matter of national pride, insists that its space-vehicle launches and missile tests do not violate the resolution and will continue.

Iran typically displays achievements in its space program in February, during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought the current, clerically dominated regime to power.

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the revolution.

Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit over the past decade, and in 2013 launched a monkey into space.

With reporting by Reuters and AP