Space centre claim fuels nuclear fears

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IRAN: Tehran’s defence minister has claimed construction is near completion on a new space centre from where it will launch satellites into orbit.

General Ahmad Vahidi’s comments were the first confirmation Iran is building a new space facility amid its stand-off with the West over its controversial nuclear programme.

The state IRNA news agency quoted Vahidi as saying the new centre will be named after the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He did not give its location.

Iran’s space programme has raised concerns because of possible military applications. The same rocket technology used to send satellites into orbit can also be retooled to construct intercontinental ballistic missiles.