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Iran will launch its own satellite within 18 months

Iran will launch its locally-built satellite within one and half years, Defense Minister Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani said on Monday, adding the launch will make the country the first in the Islamic world to capture outer space, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"Thus, Iran will be the first Islamic country to go into the space beyond the earth's atmosphere with its indigenous satellite and launch pad system," he said at the opening of an aerospace conference.

Shamkhani hailed Iran's aerospace achievements, saying "the aerospace capacity of the Islamic Republic is among the most genuine areas for bolstering the country's deterrence force, which is acquired through the cooperation of the defense industries and universities".

"There was a time when the Persian Gulf was regarded as a launch pad of threats against the Islamic Republic, but today with the power Iran has acquired, this region cannot be used by any non-regional power against us," he added.

Shamkhani described the launch as a victory against outside powers, which he said, have tried to clip Iran's wings.

"Since the early days of the construction campaign, some of the non-regional powers have tried to abort our country's efforts to acquire advanced defense technology as well as peaceful nuclear capability and economic growth," he said.

Iran' state telecommunications company had for long been seeking a foreign contractor to construct the country's first independent satellite.

Several entities, including from China, India, France and Russia had submitted proposals for the project, dubbed 'Zohreh' which the press had cited once worth 300 million dollars, but none of them were ever pushed through.

The project had been in the air since the 1980s.

Iran, with a population of more than 65 million spread out on a territory of 1.6 million kilometers, is seeking to improve its communications system.

... Payvand News - 1/6/04 ... --

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