| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

France says Iran’s space launch “regrettable” amid nuclear deal talks

France criticized Iran’s satellite rocket launch on Friday, calling it “all the more regretful” because nuclear talks with international powers were progressing, echoing US and German worries.

Iran announced on Thursday that it has sent three research gadgets into space using a satellite launch rocket, as indirect US-Iran negotiations took place in Austria to attempt to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal.

According to France’s foreign ministry, the satellite launch violated UN Security Council resolutions.

“These actions are all the more disappointing because they occur at a time when we are making progress in the Vienna nuclear talks,” the French foreign ministry stated.

“We call on Iran not to launch further ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, including space launchers.”

Iranian state TV showed footage on Thursday of what it said was the firing of the launch vehicle from the Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran at dawn.

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday Washington was aware of reports on the launch, adding such launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear deal.

A German diplomat said such launches could be used to test technology for ballistic missiles which in principle could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies its space launch activity is a cover for ballistic missile development.

The 2015 deal extended the time Iran would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb – if it chose to – to at least a year from about two to three months, in return for a lifting of sanctions.

The latest indirect talks between Iran and the United States on the 2015 deal resumed on Monday. On Tuesday, Washington expressed caution over upbeat comments by Iran and Russia about the talks, saying it was too soon to say if Tehran had returned to the negotiations with a constructive approach.

  • Reuters