TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran hailed the successful launch of a home-built satellite on Wednesday amid Western concerns it is using its nuclear and space industries to develop atomic and ballistic weapons. The Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket was carrying an experimental capsule, state-owned Al-Alam television reported. State televisions website said it was carrying live animals - a rat, turtles and worms, the first such experiment by Iran in space technology. The capsule has the ability to send back empirical data, the website said. State television showed footage of the rocket being fired from a desert launch pad leaving behind a thick plume of smoke. A few minutes later the grainy images showed the capsule detaching from the rocket and spinning in orbit. State television also carried pictures of President Nejad unveiling another home-built rocket for satellite launches dubbed the Simorgh (Phoenix). The milk-bottle shaped rocket, emblazoned in blue with the words Satellite Carrier Simorgh, is equipped to carry a 100-kilogramme satellite 500 kilometres into orbit, the television report said. The 27-metre tall multi-stage rocket weighs 85 tonnes and its liquid fuel propulsion system has a thrust of up to 100 tonnes, the report added. Ahmadinejad hailed the progress Iran was making in its space programme. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad said Iran is willing to send its uranium abroad, in comments cautiously welcomed Wednesday by world powers as a possible sign Tehran might accept a UN-brokered nuclear fuel deal. Iran would have no problem sending out its stocks of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to be further purified into reactor fuel, Ahmadinejad said in a television interview late on Tuesday. His comments came ahead of an expected meeting of world powers on possible new sanctions against Tehran and after the expiry of a January 31 ultimatum for the West to accept Irans conditions for a nuclear fuel swop. There is really no problem. Some made a fuss for nothing. There is no problem. We sign a contract. We give them (world powers) 3.5 percent (enriched uranium) and it will take four or five months for them to give us the 20 percent (enriched uranium), Ahmadinejad said in a live interview on state television. Russia, Irans main nuclear trader, welcomed Ahmadinejads latest remarks. If Iran is ready to come back to the original agreement (UN-drafted deal) we can only welcome it, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow. Britain, meanwhile, said it would be a positive sign by Iran if it were prepared to take up an IAEA offer to ship some uranium abroad, but stressed talks remain the crucial issue. If Iran is willing to take up the IAEAs proposed offer, it would be a positive sign of their willingness to engage with the international community on nuclear issues, the Foreign Office said. But it does not change the need for Iran to hold further talks with three European Union countries and China, United States and Russia, it added. The United States reacted cautiously, saying Tehran should submit a formal offer of the deal to international authorities. Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has cautioned against any hasty European move to slap new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, also announcing she is assuming the role of international intermediary on the issue. In an interview with AFP, Ashton distanced herself from the position of EU nations, such as France, that are pushing for extra sanctions on Tehran which the West suspects of seeking to develop nuclear arms under cover of a civil energy programme. Were not moving quickly on anything, she said, emphasising the need for a UN Security Council decision. Western nations who suspect Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb on Wednesday called on the Islamic state to make a firm commitment to the UN atomic watchdog to have its uranium fuel enriched abroad. Iran appeared to carry out a policy U-turn when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran would have no problem sending stocks of low-enriched uranium to other countries to be refined into reactor fuel. The United States and its European allies were surprised by the comment after Iran had earlier rejected a deal drawn up by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a bid to ease growing tensions. The UN Security Council has already passed three rounds of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. Ashton said the ball remained in the UNs court. What were doing is were saying very clearly that the next step on Iran is through the Security Council. Im very clear on that, said the EUs High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a new post created by the EUs reforming Lisbon Treaty. Paris has urged its European Union partners to prepare new sanctions against Iran, saying they were now required due to Tehrans intransigence over its nuclear programme. France is concerned by Irans announcement that it has launched a home-built rocket because the technology behind it could also be used to fire ballistic missiles, the foreign ministry said. This announcement can only reinforce the concerns of the international community as Iran in parallel develops a nuclear programme that has no identifiable civil aims, a spokesman said. Iran hailed on Wednesday the successful launch of a home-built satellite carrying a rat, turtles and worms. Tehran however denies having military goals for its space programme or its nuclear drive. Ashton said meanwhile she was assuming the role of chief international nuclear negotiator with Tehran, a post occupied until the end of last year by the then EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana-whose role has been subsumed into her expanded office. I take over Javiers position, she said of the post of representative of the six world powers involved in the talks-Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. One of the things Ive been doing is looking back over the six years of dialogue that Javier has had with Iran. I still want to see dialogue, the British peer added, without giving a date for any future talks. Its very important to find a solution through talking but unfortunately were in a position where we also have to look at what else needs to happen, hence the Security Council, Ashton said. The EU foreign affairs chief also said she would make her first official trip to the Middle East next month, hoping to relaunch peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If Mr. Ahmadinejads comments reflect an updated Iranian position, we look forward to Iran informing the IAEA, White House official Mike Hammer said. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on Wednesday that it was urgent to continue negotiations, while German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said it was now up to Tehran to make a concrete offer to the IAEA. Irans atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi stressed that talks were still ongoing and there was no final agreement regarding the deal. And Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, after meeting with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, said: My personal opinion on this is positive ... That is why the continuation of negotiations and consultations will help us reach a good formula for a settlement. Iran needs nuclear fuel to power its UN-monitored reactor in Tehran but the West fears its uranium enrichment programme is masking efforts to produce atomic weapons-claims vehemently denied by the Islamic republic. The IAEA has proposed, in a bid to allay Western fears, that Tehran ship its LEU to Russia and France to be further purified into reactor fuel. Iran agreed in principle to the offer during talks with world powers in Geneva in October, but later appeared to reject the deal and said it preferred a gradual swap for fuel-preferably on Iranian soil. It gave the West until January 31 to respond to its counter-proposals. Ahmadinejads latest remarks reiterate his original support of the IAEA-brokered deal and which he repeated during a December interview with AFP. However, his time-frame of four or five months appears to fall short of the period of about a year experts say is needed for 3.5 percent LEU to be enriched to 20 percent. The United States had said on Tuesday it hopes to consult with China and four other powers in coming days about Irans nuclear ambitions in a bid to narrow the gap with Beijing over the need for further sanctions. China is a close ally of Iran with oil interests in the country and is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It is reluctant to further isolate Iran, which is already under three sets of UN sanctions over its nuclear programme.