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Iran test fires rocket, says state media

  • Story Highlights
  • Test-fired a rocket to carry research satellite into space, according to Sunday report
  • The report comes amid discussion over Iran's controversial nuclear program
  • Launch "troubling ... raises further questions about their intentions," says U.S. official
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(CNN) -- Iran test-fired a rocket that it plans to launch later to carry a research satellite into space, state-run media reported Sunday.

The launch of Iran's two-stage rocket, called Safir or "messenger," was successful on Saturday and "paved the way for placing the first Iranian satellite in orbit," the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The report of the test launch comes amid back and forth between Iran and Western powers on the country's controversial nuclear program, and concerned senior U.S. officials, who said Iran could use the rocket to deliver warheads.

"The Iranian development and testing of rockets is troubling and raises further questions about their intentions," said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

"This action and dual use possibilities for their ballistic missile program have been a subject of [International Atomic Energy Agency] discussions and are inconsistent with their U.N. Security Council obligations."

Iran has been developing its space program for some time, but the extent of it remains unclear. In February, the country fired a rocket from its newly inaugurated space center, laying the groundwork for what it said would be the launch of its first domestically produced satellite, state-run media said at the time.

And in February 2007, state television announced Iran successfully launched a rocket that carried research materials into space, but the report did not say if the rocket reached orbit. It said the payload carried by the rocket was "research material for the ministries of science and defense."

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