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'New Iran rocket launch site shows NKorea links'

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London (AFP): Iran is building a new rocket launch site a short distance from an existing complex in the north of the country, and seems to be working with North Korea, information group IHS Jane's has said.

Construction visible from satellite imagery of the new site, near the city of Semnan east of Tehran, seems to suggest that Tehran has been collaborating with Pyongyang, said the London-based defence intelligence group.

Iran unveiled the Simorgh space-launch vehicle (SLV) on February 3, but had not yet publicly revealed the location of the rocket's launch complex, it reported on Friday.

But Jane's said it had observed a new launch pad four kilometres northeast of the existing Semnan site on a satellite image dated February 6, which it said could ultimately launch Tehran's next-generation Simorgh rocket.

The site includes a gantry tower which is 13 metres wide, approximately 18-20 metres tall "and has a cliff-side flame bucket nearly as high as the tower itself.

"It appears midway towards completion," it said, adding that the launch pad could easily accommodate the 27-metre Simorgh if the gantry were to be extended by an additional 10 metres.

And it added: "The development of the Semnan facility and the Simorgh SLV both demonstrate the likelihood of collaboration with North Korea in Iran's missile programme.

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