Russia is planning to supply an Advanced Satellite System to Iran in an attempt to greatly boost the latter’s ability to track potential military targets across West Asia and beyond. The Washington Post recently reported Tehran would soon receive a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite, equipped with a high-resolution camera. The System shall make it easier for Tehran to “continuously keep an eye on facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house US troops”. According to the American daily, the satellite could be launched by the end of June (2021). Currently, Iran is holding indirect talks with the US on reviving the 2015 Iranian Nuclear Deal designed to put curbs on Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for easing economic sanctions.
According to Diplomats, the Russian-made Kanopus-V Satellite would certainly boost the Iranian defence sector, although the satellite is marketed for civilian use. Senior officials of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have visited Russia many times in the last three years to negotiate the terms of an agreement in this regard. Russian experts, too, have visited Iran to help train ground crews who would operate the satellite from a newly built facility near the northern Iranian city of Karaj.
The Washington Post further reported that the satellite would have Russian hardware, “including a camera with a resolution of 1.2mt, a significant improvement over Iran’s current capabilities, though still far short of the quality achieved by US spy satellites“. The Kanopus-V Satellite would help Iran spy on locations of its choosing, as often as it wishes. An American official, currently in West Asia, has informed the daily that although the Russian satellite is not the world’s best, its high-resolution is powerful enough to monitor military targets. “This capability will allow Iran to maintain an accurate target bank, and to update that target bank within a few hours,” said the official.
Meanwhile, the US and its allies in West Asia have expressed serious concern over the development, as they fear that Iran could share the imagery with pro-Iranian militia groups in the region. In that case, the Palestinian Hamas Movement and the Lebanese Hezbollah outfit may often launch rocket attacks on Israel and also on Iraqi military bases, which house the US troops. It may be noted that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had successfully launched indigenous military satellite ‘Noor-1’ in April 2020. Then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the launch, saying: “It proves that Iran’s space programme is neither peaceful nor entirely civilian.”
Geopolitical experts are of the opinion that Russia, this time, is determined to counter Israel and the US’ dominance in West Asia by providing all sorts of help to Iran. As President Joe Biden has claimed that “the US is back”, the Kremlin has started preparing strategies to increase its influence in different parts of the globe. Russia has always considered Iran as its Strategic Partner in West Asia. Hence, it is quite obvious that the Islamic Republic will receive support from Russia to boost its defence sector.
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