The plan would deliver to the Iranians a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera that would greatly enhance Iran’s spying capabilities, allowing continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops, the officials said.
The Revolutionary Guards said in April 2020 that they had successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit, prompting then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for Tehran to be held accountable because he believed the action defied a U.N. Security Council resolution. However, Pentagon officials derided the “Noor” satellite as little more than a “rotating webcam” and Israel’s Foreign Ministry described the launch as a “façade for Iran’s continuous development of advanced missile technology.”
RUSSIA’S HELP TO IRAN
Russia has also provided S-300 to Iran in the past Originally purchased in 2007, Iran’s S-300 order was blocked until April 2015 when the Kremlin lifted its self-imposed ban on the sale due to the international lifting of some sanctions against Iran. The country purchased and received an unknown number of S-300s. The disclosures came as President Biden is preparing for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The imminent launch of a Russian-made Iranian satellite could add to a long list of contentious issues that have strained relations between Moscow and Washington, including most notably recent Russian hacking operations and efforts to interfere with U.S. elections.
The Washington Post said that senior Revolutionary Guards officials have made multiple trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the terms of the agreement to purchase the satellite, while Russian experts were in Iran to help train ground crews that would operate the satellite from a newly built facility near the northern city of Karaj.
In the past, the US and Israel have condemned Iran’s satellite efforts as defying a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran, which long has said it does not seek nuclear weapons, previously maintained its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component. The Guard launching its own satellite calls that into question. Russia has also defended Iran’s right to launch satellites.