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Iran says it's launched satellite-carrying rocket amid revived nuclear talks

Iran says it's launched satellite-carrying rocket amid revived nuclear talks
A Simorgh rocket is seen at an undisclosed location in Iran. Iranian officials said Thursday that Iran launched the rocket nearly 300 miles into the atmosphere. Photo courtesy Iranian Defense Ministry via EPA-EFE

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Iran said Thursday that it has launched a rocket carrying satellite equipment about 300 miles into the atmosphere -- which is well above the level needed to achieve low Earth orbit.

State-run media reported the "Simorgh" rocket launch carrying three research devices on board and said the rocket reached 290 miles.

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"[Defense ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini] pointed out that the performance of the space center and the performance of the satellite carrier were carried out correctly, adding the desired goals of the launch has been achieved," state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Iranian officials did not specify whether the rocket entered orbit, but it's typically understood that low Earth orbit begins at around 100 miles up and ends at around 1,200 miles above the Earth.

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The launch was televised from Iran's Imam Khomeini Spaceport in the morning.

Iranian state media recently published a list of planned launches for Tehran's civilian space program.

Iran's rocket and missile development have raised concerns in the West about Tehran's ability to put together a nuclear weapon. Thursday's launch came as Iranian and foreign negotiators are meeting in Austria in a bid to resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal.

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Earlier this week, U.S. and Russian officials said talks have resumed in Vienna to restore the Obama-era agreement, which the United States abandoned three years ago under former President Donald Trump.

Since the U.S. withdrawal, Iran has taken steps that violate the agreement and other signatories to the deal have expressed doubt about sticking to the deal. The agreement offers to lift some sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear development to the laboratory.

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