Iran reports rocket launch amid nuclear tension

TEHRAN Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:57am GMT

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has successfully launched a rocket called "Kavosh 2," Iran's state media reported on Wednesday, displaying the Islamic state's advances in ballistics at a time when the West is worried about its nuclear ambitions.

The launch follows an announcement earlier this month that Iran had test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile, saying the Islamic Republic was ready to defend itself against any attacker.

Tensions between Iran and Israel have been running high in recent months amid speculation of possible U.S. or Israeli strikes against Tehran's nuclear facilities, which the West suspects form part of a covert weapons program.

Tehran insists its nuclear work is aimed at generating electricity to meet Iran's booming demand.

State television did not give any further details about "Kavosh 2," which means "Explorer 2," saying details about the home-made rocket will be announced later. "The rocket was launched to register and send correct environmental data and (to test) separation of the engine from the body," state radio said.

The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons.

Iran caused international concern in February by testing a domestically made Explorer 1 rocket as part of its satellite programme. Tehran said it needed two more similar tests before putting a domestically made satellite into orbit.

The United States, the Islamic Republic's arch foe, called the February rocket test "unfortunate" and said it would only further isolate Tehran from the international community.

On August 17, Iran said it had put a dummy satellite into orbit on a domestically made rocket for the first time. U.S. officials said the attempted launch was a failure.

Western experts say Iran rarely gives enough details for them to determine the extent of its technological advances, and much Iranian technology consists of modifications of equipment supplied by China, North Korea and others.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi)

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