Image: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
EPA
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, surrounded by officials, stands under a research rocket in early February. "Iranian space engineers built the research rocket in nine months," Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, according to the IRNA, the state news agency.
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updated 2/26/2008 6:32:41 PM ET 2008-02-26T23:32:41

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that the research rocket Iran recently launched was built in just nine months without using any foreign models.

Iran's launch of a rocket in early February provoked unease in an international community already suspicious over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program since the technology involved can also be used to deliver warheads.

"Iranian space engineers built the research rocket in nine months," said Ahmadinejad, according to the IRNA, the state news agency. "The rocket was not a reproduction of a foreign one."

Analysts have expressed doubts about certain technological achievements announced by Iran in the past. The country launched its first domestically built rocket last February, which soared to the edge of space but did not reach orbit level.

John Pike, director of defense research group GlobalSecurity.org, said that nine months was a "feasible" amount of time to build a rocket if the engineers began with some of the parts assembled.

Pike also noted that while Iran may not have used a foreign model, the country had "worked very closely with Pakistan and North Korea for many years."

Iranian space officials claimed the rocket reached an orbit of 125-155 miles above the earth and successfully transmitted back scientific data.

Iran says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation and improve telecommunications, as well as for security.

The Iranian government says it hopes to launch four more satellites by 2010 to increase the number of telephone lines and Internet capacity.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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