Iran has signed a satellite cooperation accord with China
in a development that could accelerate Teheran's intermediate- and long-range missile
programs, U.S. officials said.
On Wednesday, the State Department imposed sanctions on four Chinese and
one North Korean entity for missile exports to Iran. Some of the entities
have already come under U.S. sanctions.
Iran and China signed a memorandum of understanding meant to
improve aerospace and satellite cooperation. Under the MoU, China would
exchange expertise in the area of satellites and aerospace technology and sciences, Middle East Newsline reported.
[On Thursday, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance, the leading
group opposed to the Teheran regime, held a briefing to discuss
Iran's intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile programs. The council
said Iran was developing a solid-fuel missile with a range of 2,500
kilometers and tipped with a nuclear warhead.]
The official Iranian news agency, Irna, reported that the MoU was signed
in Beijing on Nov. 30
The agency said the accord ø signed by Iranian Space
Agency director Hassan Shafti and Chinese National Space Agency director
Lae-on Soon ø was meant to consolidate bilateral cooperation in the field
of aerospace technology and sciences.
"Under the MoU, the two sides are to use aerospace technology for
peaceful purposes, particularly telecommunication and research satellites,"
Shafti headed an Iranian delegation that discussed Beijing's assistance
to Teheran's satellite program. Iran was said to be preparing to launch
three satellites in 2005 and has been discussing cooperation with France and
Russia. This week, a Russian delegation held talks with Iranian officials on
reviving the Zohreh communications satellite program.
During the visit to Beijing, the Iranian delegation toured several
Chinese centers for science, research and aerospace technology. China plans
to send more than 100 satellites into orbit by 2020.
Over the last two years, the United States has imposed sanctions on a
range of Chinese companies accused of sending missile components and
technology to Iran. The Bush administration has regarded Iran's satellite
program as a cover for its intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile