Iran on Monday confirmed an explosion at one of its satellite launch pads, saying it was due to a technical fault, and criticised US President Donald Trump for “gleefully” tweeting about it.
Trump said the US had nothing to do with what he called a “catastrophic accident” at Semnan Space Centre in a tweet on Friday alongside a high-resolution picture pointing to apparent damage at the site.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the launch pad had been vacant when last week’s explosion occurred, in Iran’s first admission that an accident occurred at the space centre in the north of the country.
“The explosion was in the launch pad and a satellite had not yet been transferred there,” Rabiei told state television.
“Fortunately, nobody was killed in this incident. It was a technical issue… and it’s now clear how this happened.”
Rabiei criticised Iran’s foes for trying to “convey that they are capable of infiltrating our organisations for espionage and sabotage”.
The spokesman also hit out at Trump over his tweet.
“We don’t know why the US president would… post a satellite photo, kind of treating the subject gleefully,” said Rabiei.
“Fortunately, our knowledge in this field is increasing by the day,” he said referring to Iran’s space programme.
The incident comes after months of tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Trump last year unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 international deal that placed limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, and he reimposed crippling financial penalties.
“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” Trump said in the tweet.
Publicly available satellite photos showed plumes of black smoke rising from space centre on August 29.
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North Korea will not hold ‘useless’ summits with US: KCNA
Another summit between North Korea and the US would be "useless" unless Washington offers new concessions in their nuclear negotiations, Pyongyang said Monday, hours after Donald Trump hinted at the prospect.
"You should act quickly, get the deal done," Trump tweeted Sunday, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "See you soon!"
Kim and Trump have met three times since June last year, but talks have been gridlocked since their Hanoi summit in February broke up in disagreement over sanctions relief, while October's working-level talks rapidly broke down in Sweden.
Pyongyang has set Washington a deadline of the end of the year to come forward with a fresh offer, and foreign ministry advisor Kim Kye Gwan said the US was "buying time while acting as if it has achieved progress".
Samoa makes measles vaccine mandatory to stop deadly outbreak
Samoa finalised plans for a compulsory measles vaccination programme Monday, after declaring a state of emergency as a deadly epidemic sweeps the Pacific nation.
At least six fatalities, including five children, have been linked to the outbreak of the virus, which has also hit other island states such as Tonga and Fiji.
Samoa is the worst affected with more than 700 cases reported from across all areas of the country, prompting the government on Friday to invoke emergency powers.
Declaring a state of emergency, the government said plans for compulsory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisations would be published on Monday.