Washington says the high-resolution satellite will allow Iran to surveil the Israeli and American military bases.
Russia is preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite which could track potential military targets across the Middle East, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite, equipped with a high-resolution camera, is scheduled to be launched from Russia within months.
The report was published days before US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva and as Iran and the United States are engaged in indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal designed to put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.
The satellite would allow "continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops," the officials, a current and a former US official and a senior Middle Eastern government official briefed on the sale, said.
Although Kanopus-V is designed for civilian use, the US officials are afraid that it will be used for military and intelligence purposes by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Russian experts reportedly visited Iran this spring to train crews who will operate the satellite at the recently built facility near Karaj west of Tehran.
What is Kanopus-V?
Kanopus-V is designed to observe the Earth’s surface, atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetosphere to detect and research the possibility of strong earthquake occurrence.
It has been used as a minisatellite mission for the Russian Space Agency, Roskosmos and ROSHYDROMET/Planeta.
It performs a wide range of duties to gather information for the Russian agencies such as monitoring both natural disasters and natural emergencies including mapping the surface.
The forest fires and large environmental pollutant emissions could be detected by Kanopus-V. It could also monitor agriculture, water and coastal resources.
Thanks to its high-resolution camera, it could be used highly effectively in observation of specified regions of the Earth’s surface.
Although some changes happened over time due to the modifications, the spacecraft is currently nearly 450 kilogram and has a five years of a guaranteed lifespan.
The orbital altitude of it is about 510-540 kilometres from the Earth’s surface.
The satellite would feature Russian hardware, the Post said, "including a camera with a resolution of 1.2 meters — a significant improvement overIran’s current capabilities, though still far short of the quality achieved by the US spy satellites."
The Revolutionary Guards said in April 2020 that they had successfully launched the country's first military satellite into orbit, prompting then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for Tehran to be held accountable because he believed the action defied a UN Security Council resolution.