Iran denies reports that Moscow will use its new surveillance satellite for war in Ukraine

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TEHRAN — Iran said on Sunday it would control “from day one” a satellite due to be launched by Russia in days, dismissing reports that it would initially serve Moscow in its war in Ukraine.

Iran’s remote sensing satellite, named Khayyam, is to be launched Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russia’s State Space Corporation announced earlier this week.

“All orders related to the control and operation of this satellite will be executed and issued from day one and immediately after launch by Iranian experts based in … Iranian space bases,” the Iranian Space Agency said in a statement. communicated.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Russia “plans to use the satellite for several months or more” to support its war efforts in Ukraine before allowing Iran to take control, according to unnamed intelligence officials. western.

They added that the satellite will provide Tehran with “unprecedented capabilities, including near-continuous surveillance of sensitive facilities in Israel” and the Gulf.

But Moscow would first use the satellite to “enhance its surveillance of military targets” in the Ukraine conflict, according to the report.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, center, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, greet each other as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi stands right, during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, July 19, 2022. (Office of Iran’s Supreme Leader via AP)

The Iranian Space Agency dismissed the claims as “false”, adding that “no third country is able to access the information” sent by the satellite due to its “encrypted algorithm”.

The satellite, apparently named after 11th- and 12th-century Persian polymath Omar Khayyam, aims to “monitor the country’s borders”, improve agricultural productivity and monitor water resources and natural disasters, the government said. Iranian agency earlier this week.

The announcement about the new satellite came two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran.

In June 2021, Putin denied a US media report that Russia was close to providing Iran with an advanced satellite system that will significantly improve its spy capabilities.

Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not violate the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, or any other international agreement.

Western governments fear that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, which Iran has always denied wanting to build.

Iran successfully launched its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, drawing a sharp rebuke from the United States. In March, the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological arm of Iran’s armed forces, announced that they had successfully launched a military “reconnaissance satellite”, Nour-2, into orbit.

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