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Iran Dismisses US Concerns Regarding Tehran Space Program

Iranian officials have dismissed U.S. concerns regarding the country's space program after launching a new rocket capable of carrying the first domestically-built satellite into orbit.

An Iranian government spokesman said Tuesday that other countries should not worry about scientific achievements.

Iran test fired the rocket as it inaugurated its first major space center Monday. Iranian officials said the new facility in the northern province of Semnan will be used to launch the satellite named Omid, or "Hope", into space by early next year.

In Washington, the White House called the test unfortunate and said it will further isolate Tehran from the rest of the world. A White House spokeswoman described the Iranian rocket as a ballistic missile.

Washington and European officials have expressed concern about Iran's missile program and accused Tehran of trying to master technology to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charges and says both programs are peaceful.

Iran has been pursuing a space program for several years. It says it wants to launch satellites for research and telecommunications.

Iran's first satellite was designed by Russia and launched into space by a Russian rocket in October 2005.

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