An Iranian observation satellite Russia’s space agency Roscosmos is going to launch on August 9, 2022, will be used by the Russian armed forces for at least some time, reports suggest. 

The satellite, named Khayyam, was manufactured by Roscosmos and is a result of a four-year-long joint project between Russian and Iranian space programs. 

Officially the satellite is aimed at “improving agricultural productivity, monitoring water resources and management of natural disasters,” Iran’s state media claims.  

However, various sources report that the satellite is primarily intended for monitoring Iran’s borders as well as collecting data about military facilities in the Persian Gulf. Based on the Russian observational satellite Kanopus-V, Khayyam is equipped with an array of high-resolution cameras, giving Iran an unprecedented capability to monitor objects that are located beyond its borders.  

On August 4, the Washington Post published a story claiming that, according to unnamed Western military officials, an agreement between Iran and Russia ensures that for “several months or longer” the satellite will be used by the Russian military, presumably to help its war effort in Ukraine. 

After the end of the agreed-upon period, the control of the satellite will be transferred to Iran, two separate sources confirmed to the Washington Post. 

Russia’s plans to give Iran a satellite that could be used for intelligence gathering purposes was initially vehemently denied by the Russian president Vladimir Putin.  

Roscosmos announced the upcoming launch of Khayyam on August 3, 2022, describing it as a “remote sensing apparatus”, without mentioning the purpose of the satellite. 

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moscow vastly increased its military and technological cooperation with Iran, seeking to import anti-aircraft systems and combat drones to be used in the war

In July 2022, Russia and Iran signed a cooperation agreement regarding the delivery of Iranian-made aircraft parts to Russia, as well as maintenance of Russian aircraft by Iranian companies. 

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