AFP: Iran said on Monday that North Korea was justified in carrying out its controversial weekend rocket launch and denied there were any links between the two countries' missile programmes.
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran said on Monday that North Korea was justified in carrying out its controversial weekend rocket launch and denied there were any links between the two countries' missile programmes.
"We have always maintained that space can be used for peaceful purposes by adhering to international laws," foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told reporters when asked about Sunday's controversial rocket launch.
"As it is our right to do so, we maintain that others also have that right." He also said the Iranian missile programme was entirely separate from North Korea's, despite international concern that they are linked.
"The Islamic republic's missile programme is a separate and independent issue from North Korea's. Their programme started years ago and their launch was not the first one," he said.
International analysts believe that Iran and North Korea collaborated closely on the latest rocket launch, judging by the payload which they say appeared similar to one in an Iranian launch in February.
World powers denounced Sunday's launch as a reckless and provocative threat to global security. The North said it had launched an experimental communications satellite as part of a peaceful space programme.
In February, Iran successfully launched its own first ever home-built satellite.
The launch of the Omid (Hope) satellite sent alarm bells ringing in the international community, which voiced concern over Iran's development of technology that could also be used for military purposes.
Iran denies that its space programme has military goals and insists that its nuclear drive is purely peaceful, despite Western fears it may be a cover for ambitions to build atomic weapons.