New Delhi: Iran said Tuesday that it had expressed concern to India over this country's commercial launch of an Israeli spy satellite last month. The satellite, TecSAR, was placed into orbit by a rocket of the Indian space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Iranian ambassador to India, Sayed Mahdi Nabizadeh, said that though it had not lodged an official complaint, its officials had informally conveyed this position to the Indian foreign affairs establishment.
The satellite launch took place on 21 January this year. The launch was originally due last year, but monsoon related obstacles, according to ISRO, saw the launch being postponed to the current year.
The satellite's synthetic aperture radar (SAR) gives Israel the capability to see through clouds and carry out day and night all-weather imaging.
"The Indian government says the issue is a technical and commercial one, but we hope that the matter can be considered from the point of view of protocol," Nabizadeh, told reporters.
"We hope that an independent and wise country like India will not give their space technology to launch any instruments of espionage. Our officials have expressed our point of view," he added.
The launch was a commercial contract between Israel Aerospace Industries and Antrix, the marketing arm of India's space agency. The successful launch provides India a big boost in the extremely competitive international satellite launch business, where Russian, European and Chinese space agencies are in intense competition.
Iran is currently caught up in a running battle with the international community over the clandestine nature of its nuclear energy programme. The Israeli's have said that the TecSAR will allow them to keep more effective tabs over Iranian attempts to develop a nuclear arms programme.
Iran has consistently denied the allegation.