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Iran Seeks 3 More Khayyam Satellites

Iran Seeks 3 More Khayyam Satellites

Friday, 12 August, 2022 - 11:00
An Iranian satellite launched by Russia blasts off from Kazakhstan on August 9, 2022 Handout Russian Space Agency Roscosmos/AFP/File

Iran plans to commission three more versions of a satellite launched this week by Russia, Tehran's government spokesman said Friday.


The Khayyam blasted into orbit on Tuesday, prompting US accusations that it is intended for spying, which Iran denied.


"The construction of three other Khayyam satellites with the participation of Iranian scientists is on the government's agenda," its spokesman Ali Bahadori-Jahromi said on Twitter.


A Soyuz-2.1b rocket sent the satellite into orbit from the Moscow-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


Responding to the launch, Washington said Russia's growing cooperation with Iran should be viewed as a "profound threat", but the head of Iran's Space Agency, Hassan Salarieh, said the Khayyam is designed to meet Iran's needs for "crisis and urban management, natural resources, mines, agriculture and so on."


The Khayyam was built by the Russians under Iran's supervision, Salarieh said at a press conference on Wednesday.


Ahead of the launch, The Washington Post quoted anonymous Western intelligence officials as saying that Russia "plans to use the satellite for several months or longer" to assist its war effort before allowing Iran to take control.


Iran's space agency stressed on Sunday that it would control the satellite "from day one", in an apparent reaction to the Post's report.


The United States has accused Iran of effectively supporting Russia's war against Ukraine while adopting a "veil of neutrality".


Western governments also worry that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, something Iran has always denied wanting to build.


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