September 8, 2008

Thailand, Iran, China Launch Non-Military Research Satellite

Text of report in English by Thai newspaper Bangkok Post website on 8 September

[Report by Bangkok Post, Reuters: "Iran satellite gets Thai help"]

Teheran: Thailand has helped Iran put a joint research satellite into space. It went into orbit yesterday after being launched atop a Chinese rocket.

The launch was announced by Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Soleimani on Iranian television.

He said Iran, China and Thailand had worked together on the satellite, which was equipped with cameras and was aimed at boosting cooperation in coping with natural disasters such as earthquakes.

In Bangkok, Information and Communications Technology Minister Mun Patanotai said Thailand cooperated with China, Iran, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bangladesh and South Korea to develop a small multi- mission satellite (SMMS) for non-military purposes.

The satellite, with a low earth orbit and weighing only 510kg, has the capability of tracking natural resources, disasters, agriculture management, doing geographic surveys and scientific testing.

Thailand was responsible for developing telecommunication equipment with a Ka-band frequency for the satellite.

The countries cooperated under the Asia-Pacific Multilateral Cooperation on Space Technology amd Application pact. The Iranian announcement came only a few weeks after Iran said on Aug 17 it had put a dummy satellite into orbit on a domestically made rocket for the first time. US officials said the attempted launch was a failure.

China is among six world powers seeking to convince Iran to halt nuclear work the West fears is aimed at making bombs, but it has been reluctant to consider steps that might hurt its energy ties with the world's fourth-largest oil exporter.

Iran caused international concern in February by testing a domestically made rocket as part of its satellite programme, the Explorer 1. It said it needed two more similar tests before putting a domestically made satellite into orbit.

The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons.

The West believes Teheran is seeking to develop more advanced missile technology so it can launch atomic warheads. Iran denies any such intention and says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad, who visited Beijing on Saturday, last month said Iran planned to launch a telecommunications satellite.

The head of Iran's aerospace organization, Reza Taghipour, said Iran was working with Russia and other Asian states to launch a satellite.

Originally published by Bangkok Post website, Bangkok, in English 8 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.