Iran Launches New Rocket, Showing Advances In Potential Missile Technology


Iran tested a new rocket on Monday with improved technology that could be used in its missile program, its latest attempt to raise the stakes for the Biden administration ahead of potential negotiations over a new nuclear deal.

The new rocket, named Zuljanah, was developed under a government-backed program to send civilian satellites into orbit 310 miles above ground, according to a spokesman for the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Space Department. The technology is easily transferable to Iran’s military missile program run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, experts say.

The Zuljanah features a solid-fuel-propelled motor that is the largest yet exhibited by Iran. Motors propelled by solid fuel, rather than liquid, are a key component in intercontinental ballistic missiles, which the U.S. seeks to prevent Iran from developing.

“After tests…[it] will be ready to put operational satellites in orbit,” said Ahmad Hosseini of the Defense Ministry, according to the IRNA state news agency.

While Iran regularly tests new missile technology, Monday’s launch, which was broadcast on national television, was the first since President Biden took office.

Iran over the past 18 months has sought relief from U.S. sanctions—reimposed by the Trump administration after it withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018—by breaching key provisions in the accord. Tehran has stockpiled more low-enriched uranium than the deal allows, restarted uranium enrichment at 20% purity and announced that it would prepare production of uranium metal.

Mr. Biden has said he intends to rejoin the nuclear deal as a basis for follow-on discussions. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in January said Iran’s missile program isn’t up for negotiation. Washington and Tehran both publicly say that the other party must come back into compliance first.

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