Two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Iran, Russia will launch an Iranian remote-sensing satellite, the Khayyam, from an area in Kazakhstan leased to Russia.

“In cooperation with Russia, the Khayyam satellite will be launched next week from the Baikonur space station in Kazakhstan by a Soyuz satellite carrier,” the Iranian Space Agency said last Wednesday. 

The Khayyam satellite, named after a 12th-century Persian mathematician, reportedly will “monitor the country’s borders,” enhance agricultural productivity, and monitor water resources and natural disasters, the Iranian agency wrote.

Russia’s State Space Corporation, Roscosmos, announced that the launch of the Iranian satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome is scheduled for Tuesday.

“On Aug. 9, 2022, a Soyuz-2.1B rocket is scheduled to be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome … to put the Khayyam remote sensing device ordered by the Islamic Republic of Iran into orbit,” Roscosmos said in a statement. 

“The Khayyam device was designed and manufactured at enterprises that are part of the State Corporation Roscosmos,” the statement said.

It is not the first time that Russia has helped launch Iranian satellites. In 2005, Russia launched Iran’s Sina-1 satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

According to unnamed Western security officials familiar with the upcoming satellite launch, the Khayyam satellite “will greatly enhance Tehran’s ability to spy on military targets across the Middle East,” The Washington Post published.

According to the security officials, the satellite is equipped with a high-resolution camera that will give Tehran “unprecedented capabilities, including near-continuous monitoring of sensitive facilities in Israel and the Persian Gulf.” 

The satellite has a resolution of 1.2 meters, the Western security officials said. While that is of lesser quality than U.S. spy satellites or high-end commercial satellites, it is reportedly a substantial improvement over Iran’s current capabilities.

Iran would also be able to “task” the new satellite to spy on locations of its choosing, as often as it wishes, according to the officials. 

“It’s not the best in the world, but it’s high resolution and very good for military aims,” a Middle Eastern official familiar with the hardware of the satellite told The Washington Post in June 2021. “This capability will allow Iran to maintain an accurate target bank, and to update that target bank within a few hours” every day.

Additionally, and equally concerning, the security official told The Post, “is the possibility that Iran could share the imagery with pro-Iranian militia groups across the region, from the Houthi rebels battling Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen to Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon and Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria.” 

“Pro-Iranian militias have been linked to repeated rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases that are home to U.S. troops and military trainers,” he said.

“This is obviously a clear and present danger to the United States and our allies in the Middle East and abroad,” said Richard Goldberg, an Iran analyst in the Trump administration’s National Security Council, now serving as senior advisor for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank. 

“As Iran perfects its missile arsenal – from short-, medium- to longer-range missiles, alongside its growing UAV capability throughout the Middle East – being able to sync those capabilities with satellite capabilities and surveillance will only increase the lethality of the Iranian threat,” Goldberg said.

Russia intends, firstly, however, “to use the spacecraft to assist its own war effort in Ukraine,” the officials told The Post.

“But Iran may not be able to take control of the satellite right away,” The Washington Post wrote. “Russia, which has struggled to achieve its military objectives in its five-month-old assault on Ukraine, has told Tehran that it plans to use the satellite for several months, or longer, to enhance its surveillance of military targets in that conflict.”

Russia and Iran have been intensifying their cooperation since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, as both countries increasingly find themselves isolated on the international scene. 

In a show of how much Iran means to Russia, Putin recently chose Iran as his first international destination since launching his war on Ukraine. 

During the visit, two weeks ago, Putin met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation, with Russia announcing a $40 billion investment in Iran’s oil industry. 

Putin and Raisi also discussed “ways for expansion of bilateral relations in different areas, including energy, transit, trade exchanges and regional developments, as well.”

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