Iran tests new satellite-carrying rocket in move US calls 'unhelpful and destabilising'

Iran has tested a new satellite-carrying rocket.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division which developed the Ghaem 100, said the rocket would be used to launch Iran's Nahid satellite for the telecommunications ministry, state media reported.

Saturday's test has caused concern in Washington, which fears the same long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Iran has regularly denied having any such intention.

In an emailed response to the Iranian announcement, a spokesperson for the US State Department said: "Such actions are unhelpful and destabilising.

"The United States remains concerned with Iran's continued development of space launch vehicles (SLVs), which pose a significant proliferation concern," the spokesperson said.

"SLVs incorporate technologies that are virtually identical to, and interchangeable with, those used in ballistic missiles, including longer-range systems."

The official said launches of SLVs "defy United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which calls upon Iran not to undertake any activities related to ballistic missiles 'designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology'."

The news comes as the country continues to see widespread protests and calls for change over the death of Mahsa Amini.

"The flight test of this satellite carrier with a solid-fuelled engine … was successfully completed," state news agency IRNA reported.

Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, has had several failed satellite launches in the past few years, blamed on technical issues.

A UN resolution in 2015 called on Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons, following an agreement with six world powers.

Iran says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons and, therefore, the resolution does not apply to its ballistic missiles, which Tehran had described as an important deterrent and retaliatory force.