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US accuses Iran of building missiles through satellite bid

By AFP

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Iranians take pictures of the Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite rocket during events in Tehran to mark the 37th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 11th, 2016. [Atta Kenare/AFP]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday (February 11th) accused Iran of honing its ballistic missile skills through a satellite launch and vowed to exert more pressure.

Iran said Sunday it had successfully launched a satellite but that it failed to reach orbit.

The attempted launch of the Zafar ("Victory") came days before the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and crucial parliamentary elections in Iran.

Pompeo said the technology involved in a space launch was "virtually identical" to the knowhow for a long-range ballistic missile.

"Each launch, whether failed or not, further allows Iran to gain experience using such technologies that could benefit its missile programmes under the guise of a peaceful space programme," Pompeo said in a statement.

"The US will continue to build support around the world to confront the Iranian regime's reckless ballistic missile activity, and we will continue to impose enormous pressure on the regime to change its behaviour," he said.

Trump in 2018 slapped sweeping sanctions on Iran in a bid to decrease its military clout.

Tensions soared last month after Trump ordered a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, as he visited Iraq, where Iran-allied militias had fired rockets on bases housing US troops.

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