August 31, 2019 / 4:25 AM / 18 days ago

Iran minister indicates satellite undamaged after failed launch

DUBAI, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Iran’s telecommunications minister suggested in a tweet on Saturday that an Iranian satellite was undamaged after a failed launch, which U.S. President Donald Trump had tweeted about hours earlier.

Trump on Friday posted on Twitter a photo of what appeared to be the site of a failed Iranian satellite launch, raising questions about whether he had disclosed U.S. surveillance secrets.

“Me & Nahid 1 (Venus 1) right now. Good Morning Donald Trump!,” Communications and Information Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said in a tweet that included a picture purported to show him and the satellite.

The rocket exploded on its launch pad on Thursday, an Iranian official had told Reuters, although Iranian media did nor report the failed launch. A U.S. official also said Iran suffered a satellite launch failure.

The United States has warned Iran against rocket launches, fearful the technology used to put satellites into orbit could enable Tehran to develop the ballistic missile capability needed to launch nuclear warheads.

Tehran denies the U.S. accusation that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development.

The Trump administration has ratcheted up economic pressure on Iran this year with economic sanctions to try to force it to renegotiate a pact reached with world powers in 2015 limiting its nuclear programme. Trump withdrew the United States from the pact in May last year.

Trump has offered to hold talks with Iran but Tehran says it must first get relief from U.S. sanctions. (Reporting by Dubai newsroom Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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