Iran said on Tuesday it has launched its first locally-built satellite into orbit highlighting the region's progress in space technology.

The Omid satellite was sent into space last night, carried by the Iranian-built Safir-2 space rocket from an undisclosed location. Iran's official IRNA news agency reported. Iran said the satellite was developed for research and telecommunications.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised Iranian scientists for their accomplishment, saying that the satellite carried a message of justice, peace and friendship, the conservative Fars news agency reported.

Ahmadinejad said in a television address today that With this launch the Islamic Republic of Iran has officially achieved a presence in space.

Western powers have expressed concern that Tehran could also use the technology to build long-range, nuclear-capable missiles. French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Eric Chevallier said that the technology is very similar to ballistic capabilities. We can't but link this to the very serious concerns about the development of military nuclear capacity

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says that The technological capacity of Iran is meant to meet the needs of the country

Last August, Iran said it had successfully launched a rocket capable of carrying its first domestically built satellite. That launch marked the inauguration of a new space center, at an unidentified desert location, which included an underground control station and satellite launch pad.

The former presidend George W. Bush called the 2008 launch unfortunate, warning it would further isolate Iran from the global community.

However, Mottaki, reiterated that Iran's satellite technology is for purely peaceful purposes, such as the gathering of environmental data.