January 16, 2019 / 12:19 PM / 3 months ago

France condemns failed Iran satellite launch, urges halt to ballistics tests

The Payam satellite is launched in Iran, January 15, 2019, in this still image taken from video. Reuters TV/via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - France on Wednesday condemned a failed Iranian satellite launch that it said used technology applicable to long-range missiles and urged Tehran to stop all ballistic tests which are not in line with U.N. resolutions.

It was the latest in a string of French comments expressing irritation at Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program despite attempts over the last two years by France and other European powers to open talks on the subject with Iranian authorities.

“The Iranian ballistic program is a source of concern for the international community and France,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.

Iranian officials said on Tuesday their bid to launch a satellite had failed. President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would be ready for a new satellite launch in a few months.

Iran, which considers its space program a matter of national pride, has said its space-vehicle launches and missile tests are not violations of U.N. resolutions and would continue.

Western powers are concerned that the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Iran has repeatedly denied any intent to develop nuclear weapons.

“We call on Iran not to proceed with new ballistic missile tests designed to be able to carry nuclear weapons, including space launchers, and urge Iran to respect its obligations under all U.N. Security Council resolutions,” von der Muhll said.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mark Heinrich

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