On December 21, Iran’s minister of communications and information technology said his country was set to launch a satellite, called “Sharif Sat” or “Friendship” satellite, into space by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2017). Mahmoud Vaezi added that Iran planned to launch two more satellites by the next year’s end. He claimed that all three satellites were locally manufactured by scientists at Iranian universities. Vaezi also disclosed that Iran had finalized a deal with a Russian company to produce a remote-sensing satellite.
Iran’s increasing emphasis on satellite technology has alarmed the United States and regional countries, which see the Islamic Republic’s satellite and space work as a cover to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Such long-range missiles could carry a nuclear weapon and target not just Israel or other regional countries but also Europe and the United States. Under United Nations resolutions related to the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran is prohibited from the production of ICBMs or similar long-range missiles.