US-Iran tensions soar as Tehran demands United Nations condemn Trump for space sanctions

Express – Iran has written a letter to the United Nations to protest sanctions imposed by the US on its space programme

The letter submitted outlined Tehran’s note of protest to the United Nations (UN), demanding they condemn US sanctions targeting three Iranian space institutions. The letter, addressed to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) yesterday, claimed the US’ move could hamper Iran’s progression in space sciences.

Tehran says it wants to advance its space programme for peaceful purposes, including climate protection and prevention of natural disorders.

The US, however, claims Iran’s desire to advance its space sciences is to bolster its ballistic missile program.

In the letter, Iran’s Space Agency wrote: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is among those countries that are a hotbed for natural disasters like earthquake, flooding and famine.

The letter suggested that Washington has constantly sought to prevent joint space schemes between Iran and other countries and organisations.

It also claimed that the US has stonewalled Iran’s home-grown efforts to gain access to space.

Iran said US sanctions would not deter the nation away from expanding its “peaceful” same programme.

The letter outlined Tehran’s wish for the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) members to continue to respect Iran’s right to have access to space.

The US imposed the sanctions on Iran’s civilian space agency and two research organisations in September.

The US Treasury sanctions targeted the Iran Space Agency, Iran Space Research Centre and the Astronautics Research Institute.

At the time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement: “The United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs.”

He said Iran’s attempt to test a space launch vehicle in August underscored “the urgency of the threat.”

In September, an Iranian rocket exploded on its launch pad at Imam Khomeini Space Centre in northern Iran before its scheduled launch.

The explosion followed Iran’s failed attempt to launch a satellite in January.

The sanctions, part of a years-long US pressure campaign to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, are the first imposed on Iran’s space agencies, according to the State Department.

The United States fears long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads.

The Iran Space Agency develops satellites and launch vehicle technology, and works with the Iran Space Research Centre on day-to-day tasks as well as research and development, according to the State Department.

The State Department said: “The two have also worked with a sanctioned liquid propellant ballistic missile organisation, Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group.

The Astronautics Research Institute has managed the space vehicle launch project, according to the department.

Tehran denies its space activity is a cover for developing weapon launches.

US President Donald Trump posted on Twitter a photo of what appeared to be the site of the failed Iranian satellite launch.

Mr Pompeo said: “These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran’s space program could contribute to Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system.”

Trump withdrew from a 2015 multi-national nuclear deal with Iran, saying it did not go far enough.