Iranian missile display in Tehran
Iranian missile display in TehranReuters

Russia is preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite system that will give Tehran an unprecedented ability to track potential military targets across the Middle East, including military bases in Israel, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing current and former US and Middle Eastern officials briefed on details of the arrangement.

According to the report, the plan would deliver to the Iranians a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera that would greatly enhance Iran’s spying capabilities.

The satellite would allow Iran continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house US troops, the officials said. The launch could happen within months, they said.

While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, Iranian military officials have been heavily involved in the acquisition, and leaders of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have made multiple trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the terms of the agreement, the officials said.

As recently as this spring, Russian experts traveled to Iran to help train ground crews that would operate the satellite from a newly built facility near the northern city of Karaj, the officials told The Washington Post.

The Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow did not respond to an email request for comment.

If fully realized, the deal with Russia would represent a significant boost for the Iranian military establishment.

Under the agreement, Iran’s new satellite would be launched in Russia and would feature Russian hardware, including a camera with a resolution of 1.2 meters — a significant improvement over Iran’s current capabilities. More important, Iran would be able to “task” the new satellite to spy on locations of its choosing, and as often as it wishes, the officials said.

Russia has assisted Iran militarily in the past, having delivered its S-300 air defense systems to Iran.

Iran then designed and developed its own version of the S-300 missile shield, named Bavar 373.

Russia has also expressed a willingness to supply Iran with its S-400 air defense system.