Iran rocket suffered 'catastrophic failure,' likely blew up, US official says

A much-hyped Tehran space launch turned out to be a dud, as the Iranian Simorgh rocket suffered a "catastrophic failure" shortly after liftoff on Thursday and likely blew up before it reached space, two U.S. officials told Fox News.

On Thursday, U.S. Strategic Command, which monitors launches around the world, could only confirm a satellite was not deployed from the rocket. But fresh intelligence assessments on Friday confirmed yet another failure by the Islamic Republic in its mission to place an operational satellite into orbit --something Tehran has never done before, despite repeated attempts over the past few years.

Officials have long been concerned the technology used to put a satellite into space could also be repurposed to make a long-range ballistic missile capable of one day potentially hitting the U.S. The Simorgh rocket is based on a North Korean design.

Iran's state media on Thursday claimed the launch was successful, but U.S. spy agencies quickly determined that assessment was more propaganda than fact.

But even though it failed, Iran's attempted rocket launch succeeded in violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Critics of the UN resolution -- which went into effect days after the landmark Iran nuclear agreement two years ago -- say the language is purposefully weak, however, and does not forbid Iran from carrying out such tests. The resolution states Iran is merely "called upon" not to conduct such rocket and missile tests.

"We would consider that a violation of UNSCR 2231," Nauert said flatly. "We consider that to be continued ballistic missile development."