A mysterious explosion of a rocket at an Iranian space center grew more mysterious on Saturday as President Donald Trump tweeted what appeared to be an American surveillance photo of the site and Tehran showed off a satellite meant to be launched. Trump came out with a tweet soon after the Thursday’s explosion at the Imam Khomeini Space Center.
In the tweet Trump said: “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 wrote, identifying the rocket used. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”
Trump’s tweet got a befitting reply from Iran’s Information and Communications Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi. However, Jahromi declined to say what went wrong while showing local journalists the Nahid-1 satellite meant to be launched. Taking to Twitter, Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said: “I have no idea about the Americans’ comment about Semnan space site and I think it is more appropriate that the respected minister of defense talk about this because it is within his realm of responsibility,” the minister said.
“But what could be seen today is that the Nahid satellite is here and has not yet been handed over.” Thursday’s explosion marked the third failure involving a launch at the center, which has raised suspicions of sabotage in Iran’s space program. The U.S. has criticised the initiative as a way for Tehran to advance its ballistic missiles. Commercially available satellite images by Planet Labs Inc. and Maxar Technologies showed a black plume of smoke rising above a launch pad Thursday, with what appeared to be the charred remains of a rocket and its launch stand. In previous days, satellite images had shown officials there repainted the launch pad blue.