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Iran Launches Satellite-Carrier Rocket, US Expresses Concern


Iran says it has successfully test-launched a rocket capable of carrying a domestically-built satellite into space.

Officials say Sunday's launch sent the satellite-carrier rocket known as Safir, or Ambassador into orbit from an Iranian space center. The officials corrected earlier reports in the Iranian media that said the rocket sent a domestic satellite into space.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe says the Iranian rocket launch is troubling because the technology could be diverted to ballistic missiles. He says Iran's actions are inconsistent with its United Nations Security Council obligations.

Iranian media say President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended the launch. State television broadcast video of a rocket heading into space.

Tehran says its space program is aimed at launching research and telecommunications satellites into orbit. In February, Iran first tested a rocket it said was capable of delivering a satellite into space.

In another development, Iran's air force commander said Sunday that Tehran has upgraded its warplanes to fly 3,000 kilometers without refueling. Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani did not specify the type of aircraft or say how the range was extended.

Israel is about 1,000 kilometers away from Iran. Iranian leaders have frequently called for the Jewish state's destruction. Israel refuses to rule out military action to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.


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