The US newspaper, “Washington Post” revealed, Thursday, that Russia is preparing to provide Iran with an advanced satellite that will enable it to track potential military targets throughout the Middle East, noting that the plan will provide for the delivery of a Russian-made Canopus-V satellite, equipped with a high-resolution camera, it could be launched from Russia within months.
The report was published days before a scheduled meeting between US Presidents Joe Biden and Russian Vladimir Putin in Geneva, and at a time when Iran and the United States are engaged in indirect talks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, with the aim of placing restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing the economic sanctions imposed on it.
The newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that the satellite “will allow continuous monitoring of facilities from oil refineries in the Persian Gulf and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that host American forces.” She said the sources are a current and a former US official and a senior government official in the Middle East who received a brief statement about the deal.
The newspaper reported that although the Canopus-V satellite was advertised as intended for peaceful uses, IRGC commanders have made several visits to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the agreement. It added that experts from Russia traveled to Iran during the spring to help train the crews that will operate the satellite from a newly built facility near Karaj, west of Tehran.
The “Washington Post” said that the satellite is equipped with Russian equipment, “including a 1.2-meter camera, which represents a significant improvement compared to Iran’s current capabilities, but it is still very far from the quality of American spy satellites.”
According to the officials, Iran will be able to use the new satellite to spy on sites of its choice and at its own pace.
These capabilities would allow Iran to maintain an accurate target bank, and update it within a few hours each day, the Middle Eastern official said. And he expressed his concern that Iran might share the photos with militias loyal to it in the region, such as the Houthis in Yemen, “Hezbollah” fighters in Lebanon, and Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria.
The Revolutionary Guard announced in April 2020 that it had succeeded in putting the first Iranian military satellite into orbit, prompting former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for Tehran to be held accountable, because he saw the move as a challenge to a UN Security Council resolution.