The United States has accused Iran of developing ballistic missile technology in the garb of a satellite launch. An Iranian minister on February 3 said that the country will launch a satellite into the orbit by the end of this week following which Washington said that it is a cover for ballistic missile development. According to reports, Iran had two failed satellite launches last year and is now preparing for a third launch.
The United States fears that long-range ballistic missile technology could be used to launch nuclear warheads as it is the same technology used to put satellites into the orbit. Trump administration in 2018 withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 (UN Security Council members) together with the European Union. The nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015 during the Obama administration. Washington re-imposed sanctions on Iran following the withdrawal from the deal.
Tensions between the United States and Tehran are at an all-time high after General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was killed by US air raid near Baghdad's international airport on January 3, along with six others. The White House and the Pentagon confirmed the death of Iran's powerful military head by saying that the attack was directed by US President Donald Trump.
Iran in response bombed the Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq that houses the US and coalition forces. According to reports, the US airbase was struck by multiple rockets during the wee hours of January 8. This incident was first reported by Iranian state TV, who described it as Tehran’s revenge operation over the killing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
(with inputs from agencies)