The Washington Post has quoted current and former U.S. and Middle Eastern officials as saying that Russia is preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite system that could greatly advance Tehran’s surveillance in the region and beyond.
The report says the Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite and its high-resolution camera could be launched within months.
The news comes with tense talks continuing over a revived international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and with U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin preparing to meet in Geneva on June 16.
Biden has already begun his European trip with warnings about Russian influence and activities that Washington regards as a threat to international order and security.
The Washington Post said the Russian Foreign Ministry did not respond to an e-mail inquiry for its story.
But the paper cites a current and a former U.S. official and a former Middle Eastern official as confirming the sale plans, all unnamed because of what the paper says are ongoing intelligence-collection efforts.
Iran’s military has struggled to get effective military reconnaissance craft into orbit, although a Noor-1 satellite was successfully put into orbit last year.
The Kanopus-V is billed as a civilian tool, The Washington Post reported, but it quoted the U.S. and regional officials as saying Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has been involved in trips to help negotiate the acquisition.
Russian experts were in Iran recently to help train ground crews for a new facility that would operate the satellite from near the northern Iranian city of Karaj, the paper said.
An unnamed Middle Eastern official was quoted as expressing concern that Iran could share the resulting satellite imagery with pro-Tehrani militia groups around the region, from Yemen to Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.
Based on reporting by The Washington Post
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