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Iran Launches Rocket, Trump Seeks to Test Nuke Deal


People are seen gathered around a model of Simorgh satellite-carrier rocket displayed during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2016.

Iran announced Thursday that it had successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite into space.

State television in Iran claimed the “Simorgh” rocket can carry a 250- kilogram satellite as far as 500 kilometers above Earth. The report did not say what the rocket was carrying into space.

In the Farsi language, “Simorgh” means “phoenix.”

The rocket launch comes after the United States moved earlier this month to increase economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program.

Thursday’s launch did not violate the 2015 nuclear agreement signed by Iran, the U.S., China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the European Union. In the agreement, Iran agreed to pull back its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

The United States has expressed concern, however, that the rocket technology Iran is developing could possibly be changed and used as long-range missiles.

Earlier this week, Iran announced it would open a new facility to produce missiles able to target aircraft as well as cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday that President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing for inspections of Iranian military areas. Senior U.S. officials said the inspections of the suspicious military areas will test the nuclear deal.

Trump has long criticized the current nuclear deal. Trump aides have said there are serious problems with the deal. If the problems are not fixed quickly, it is likely that Trump will pull out.

Officials said the U.S. is talking with European leaders to work on a follow-up agreement that would stop Iran from re-starting nuclear development once the deal expires in about 10 years. The officials were not named because they did not have approval to speak publically.

FILE - This Jan. 15, 2011 file photo shows the heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran.
FILE - This Jan. 15, 2011 file photo shows the heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran.

The deal has a complex process for inspecting Iran’s military areas. There are many chances for Iran to delay the process.

It is likely that Iran would resist the Trump administration’s inspection requests. If Iran says no to the inspections, then Trump may say that Iran is breaking the deal. That would then place the blame on Iran if the deal collapses.

If Iran agrees to the inspections, it would help those in the administration who support staying with the deal.

Earlier this month Trump wanted to declare that Iran was in violation of the agreement.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) checked for violations. It found there were only small problems.

The U.S. agreed to wait for another three months before acting.

In three months there will be another deadline to check if Iran is violating the deal. This week, Trump told The Wall Street Journal he expects to say Iran is not complying.

“If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago,” Trump said.

American businesses hope the deal survives so they can follow economic opportunities in Iran. The aviation industry, for example, recently signed billions of dollars of contracts to sell passenger planes to Iranian airlines.

I’m Anne Ball.


Anne Ball adapted this story for Learning English from VOA News and Associated Press stories. Ashley Thompson was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit us on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

ballistic missile – n. a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes

facility – n. something (such as a building or large piece of equipment) that is built for a specific purpose

cruise missile – n. a large military weapon that flies close to the ground and is directed to a specific place to explode

inspection – n. the act of looking at something closely in order to learn more about it, to find problems, etc. : the act of inspecting something

suspicious – adj. causing a feeling that something is wrong or that someone is behaving wrongly : causing suspicion

comply – v. to do what you have been asked or ordered to do

sanction – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. — usually plural

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