(AFP) – Feb 4, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House on Monday branded Iran's firing a rocket into space "unfortunate" and warned that the move would further isolate the Islamic republic from the international community.
"I saw this morning that Iran, again, tested a ballistic missile. It's unfortunate that they continue to do that because it further isolates the country from the rest of the world," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.
She spoke after Iran fired a rocket into space to mark the opening of its first space center, hailing the base's inauguration as a step forward in its battle against what it sees as Western dominance.
The installation, located in the remote desert of northern Iran, will be used to launch Iran's first home-produced satellite "Omid" (Hope) in May or June this year, officials said.
The rocket launch was believed to be the second time Iran has attempted to put an object into space after it claimed the successful firing of a missile above the atmosphere in February 2007.
The latest launch comes amid a push by Washington and its European allies to impose a third set of United Nations sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt its disputed nuclear program.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the rocket launch as "another troubling development."
"The kinds of technologies and capabilities that are needed in order to launch ... a space vehicle for orbit are the same kinds of capabilities and technologies that one would employ for long-range ballistic missiles," he said.
"And of course, the UN Security Council and other members of the international system have expressed their deep concern about Iran's continuing development of medium- and long-range ballistic missiles," McCormack said.
"The reason for that concern is tied to their ... continued search to perfect enrichment of uranium, which can, of course, be used in a nuclear weapon," he said.
Iran denies Western charges that it wants to build nuclear weapons and insists its atomic program is solely aimed at producing civilian energy.
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