Netanyahu Says Failed Iranian Satellite Launch an Attempt to Develop Intercontinental Missile

Iran claims rocket failed to reach 'necessary speed' in the third stage of launch ■ Israeli premier says Tehran is lying about nature of its tests

Iran's failed attempt to put a satellite into orbit, January 15, 2019.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the Iranian satellite launch, which Tehran said has failed, was actually part of the country's attempt to develop intercontinental ballistic missile.

Iran says it has conducted a satellite launch criticized by the U.S., but the satellite has failed to reach orbit.

State TV on Tuesday quoted the country's minister of telecommunications as saying the country failed to put Payam satellite into the orbit.

Netanyahu blasted Iran for lying regarding its failed attempt, claiming in an address delivered on Tuesday morning that Tehran was not saying the truth and that the satellite launch was the first stage in its effort to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.

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Netanyahu said, "Iran is launching an innocent satellite, but is actually interested in reaching the first stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile, violating agreements."

Netanyahu spoke at Israeli army headquarters in Tel Aviv in a ceremony welcoming the new Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. 

Addressing the issue of Iran's presence in Syria, Netanyahu also called on Tehran to withdraw forces from the war-torn country, warning Iran of Israeli actions against forces there. "I advise them to leave [Syria] quickly, because we will continue with our assertive policy, as promised, without fear and without a break."

Earlier Tuesday, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said the satellite carrier rocket failed to reach "necessary speed" in the third stage, though it could successfully pass the first and second stages of the launch.

Earlier in January, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran's plans for sending satellites into orbit demonstrate the country's defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

On January 1, Iran said it plans to send Payam, a 200-pound (90-kilogram) non-military satellite into a 310-mile (500-kilometer) orbit using an Iranian Simorgh satellite-carrier rocket.

Iran insists the launches do not violate the resolution.

Pompeo said Iran has launched ballistic missiles numerous times since the UN resolution was adopted. He said it test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads on December 1, 2018. 

"The United States has continuously cautioned that ballistic missile and SLV launches by the Iranian regime have a destabilizing effect on the region and beyond," Pompeo said. "France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and many nations from around the world have also expressed deep concern." 

In July 2017, Iran launched a rocket it said could deliver a satellite into space, an act the U.S. State Department called provocative. Earlier that month, the United States slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program. 

Iran says its space program is peaceful, but Western experts suspect it may be a cover for developing military missile technologies.