Russia launched an Iranian satellite from Kazakhstan Amid concerns it could be used for battlefield surveillance in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Iran has denied that the Khiam satellite, which was delivered into orbit on a Soyuz rocket launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome, is under Russian control.
but the The Washington Post previously reported Moscow has informed Tehran that it “plans to use the satellite for several months, or more, to enhance its monitoring of military targets” in Ukraine, according to US officials.
The newspaper reported that the satellite, named after the Persian poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam, was made by Russia and will include a high-resolution camera that will give Tehran new capabilities to monitor sensitive installations in Israel and the Gulf.
Iran’s space agency said it would control the satellite “from day one” and that “no third country is able to access its information.”
Russia’s launch of the satellite comes at a pivotal moment for the space agency Roscosmos, which has threatened to cut off cooperation with Western countries and bring change at a high level, with the dismissal of longtime President Dmitry Rogozin. Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Even as relations between Russia and the United States cooled, Roscosmos and NASA maintained basic levels of cooperation including transporting astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Russia has Threatened to leave the International Space Station In 2025 if sanctions are not lifted.
Due to the West’s isolation, Russia has increasingly turned to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia as sources of trade and diplomatic support. It has touted its ability to launch satellites aboard its heavy Soyuz rockets as one of the benefits of the cooperation.
“Due to the weight of the Khiam satellite over half a ton and the very high success rate of the Soyuz platform, Russia has been tasked with launching the Khiam satellite,” a statement on the Iranian Space Agency’s website noted.
“As before, today Russia is open to cooperation in space exploration with all interested countries and partners,” said the head of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, describing this as “an important milestone for Russian-Iranian bilateral cooperation.”
Russia viewed Iran as a source of expertise in adapting to new sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western countries. Russia is believed to be interested in learning from Iran’s experience on topics from circumventing banking sanctions to maintaining aircraft without readily available Western parts.
Putin met the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during a rare visit to Iran in July. While Russian media portrayed the trip as an indication that the Kremlin remains a powerful mediator in the Middle East, a Pentagon spokesman said the visit showed “the increasing degree of isolation of Putin and Russia”.
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