DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran appears to be preparing for a space launch as negotiations continue in Vienna over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers. That’s according to satellite images obtained Sunday by The Associated Press and an expert who analyzed the photos. The likely blast off at Iran’s Imam Khomeini Spaceport comes as Iranian state media has offered a list of upcoming planned satellite launches in the works. Conducting a launch amid the Vienna talks fits the hard-line posture struck by Tehran’s negotiators. It also fits into a renewed focus on space by Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, under whom concerns about alienating the West with the launches likely have faded.

In this satellite photo by Planet Labs Inc., a support vehicle stands parked alongside a massive white gantry that typically houses a rocket on the launch pad as activity is seen at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Semnan province, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Iran appears to be preparing for a space launch as negotiations continue in Vienna over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers, according to an expert and satellite images. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)