Iran is preparing to conduct the second of three total test launches of the Zuljanah solid-fuel satellite carrier rocket, a spokesperson for the Iranian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
Seyed Ahmad Hosseini told the Islamic Republic News Agency that one test launch of the Zuljanah rocket took place last year and two more are planned. The test launch last year was deemed "successful" by Iranian media.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Zuljanah is a three-stage carrier rocket that has both solid- and liquid-fuel engines. According to Hosseini, the rocket can carry payloads of up to 485 lbs. and can reach a height of 311 miles.
The Intel Lab and International Institute for Strategic Studies research associate John Krzyzaniak published a joint analysis Monday of satellite imagery showing possible preparations for a space launch at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Semnan, Iran.
Additionally, the Aleph OSINT Twitter account reported last week that a satellite launch vehicle (SLV) was seen by a source on June 1 near Semnan, accompanied by a "very small" military convoy.
The Defense Ministry's announcement about the rocket test launch comes just days after it announced the "martyrdom" of Iranian aerospace scientist Mohammad Abdous during a "mission" in the Semnan province, the Post reports.
According to television station Iran International, Abdous had been working on "building and developing weapons for Hezbollah in Lebanon."
According to the Post, the planned test launch comes amid stalled negotiations between world powers and Iran to return to the 2015 JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) nuclear deal and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors' recent approval of a resolution to censure Iran for nuclear violations.
Iran reportedly retaliated by disconnecting more than 20 IAEA surveillance cameras at nuclear facilities and starting advanced centrifuges.
The U.S. has said that satellite launches, such as the one planned, are a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA agreement, as the technology is "virtually identical to those used in ballistic missiles."
The U.N. resolution directs Iran "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
Last year, the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security reported that a ballistic missile using the Zuljanah's solid propellant stages could likely deliver payloads far enough to reach all of Europe, though the Zuljanah itself cannot travel that far.
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