Russia launches Iranian satellite amid Ukraine accusations

This satellite aims to “monitor the country’s borders”, improve agricultural productivity, monitor water resources and natural disasters, according to the Iranian Space Agency.

Russia launched an Iranian observation satellite from Kazakhstan on Tuesday amid concerns that some Western officials feared Moscow would use it to support its Ukraine offensive, which Tehran denies.

The Khayyam remote sensing satellite was launched by a Soyuz rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome at 7:52 a.m., according to images broadcast live by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

military targets

This satellite, named after the Persian poet and scholar Omar Khayyam (1048-1131), is aimed in particular at “guard the country’s bordersto improve agricultural productivity, control water resources and natural disasters, according to the Iranian Space Agency. For the United States, the Iranian space program is intended for more military than commercial purposes, while Tehran maintains that its aerospace activities are peaceful and in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution.

This time, however, the Iranian authorities had to defend themselves against accusations of a different kind, after the American daily washington post reported that Russia “plan to use the satellite for several monthsas part of its offensive in Ukraine before handing over control to Iran. “All orders related to the control and operation of this satellite will be issued from day one and immediately after launch by Iranian experts based in the Iranian Ministry of Communications.“The Iranian Space Agency said in a statement on Sunday.

“false accusations

No third country can access the data» sent by the satellite through a «encryption algorithm“, he assured, denouncing claims”fakeof the American newspaper. In October 2005, Russia had already launched the first Iranian satellite, Sina-1, from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome (northwestern Russia). The Khayyam will be launched three weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran on July 19, where he met with his counterpart Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on July 19. . The latter had called to strengthen the “long term cooperationwith Russia

In June 2021, the Russian president had denied information from the Washington Post claiming that Moscow was preparing to provide Iran with a sophisticated satellite to enhance its espionage capabilities. The Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s ideological army, announced in March the launch of a new military reconnaissance satellite dubbed Nour-2, following the launch of the first, Nour-1, in April 2020.

The launch of the Khayyam satellite also comes at a time when Iranian nuclear talks involving Iran, Russia, China, France, the UK and Germany have resumed in Vienna, after a months-long deadlock, to salvage the 2015 agreement. The pact known by its acronym in English JCPOA aims to guarantee the civilian nature of the Iranian nuclear program, accused of trying to acquire atomic weapons despite its denials. But following the unilateral US withdrawal in 2018 at the behest of Donald Trump and the reinstatement of US sanctions, Tehran has gradually freed itself from its obligations.

Vince Fernandez

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