DUBAI, Feb 1 (Reuters) Iran said on Monday it had successfully tested a satellite launcher to help achieve its “most powerful rocket engine”, in a move likely to trigger protests from the United States and stoke tensions over Tehran’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The United States, Iran’s long time foe, fears such long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies the U.S. accusation.

The spokesman for Iran‘s Defence Ministry’s aerospace operation, Ahmad Hosseini told state TV that “the test helped Iran to achieve its most powerful rocket engine … the rocket can be launched using a mobile launching pad”.

“It is capable of carrying a single 220 kg satellite or up to 10 smaller ones,” he said.

Iranian state TV showed the launch of the satellite-carrying rocket, or space launch vehicle. It did not say when the launch took place.

“The Zuljanah is able to reach a height of 500 km … The three-stage satellite launcher uses a combination of solid and liquid fuels. It uses solid fuel in the first and second stages and fluid fuel in the third stage,” state TV said.

In April 2020, Iran said it successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit, following repeated failed launch attempts in the previous months.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Alison Williams)

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