Russia intends to launch Iranian spy satellites

Spacetoday reports that Russia is going to launch two Iranian satellites in 2005:

Russia will launch two small Iranian satellites this year as part of a larger deal to build and launch an Iranian communications satellite, Russian media reported Wednesday. Russia officials reported over the weekend that Russia would build and launch a communications satellite, Zohreh. However, on Wednesday Russian media revealed that the deal also includes the launch of two small Iranian satellites, Mesbah and Sinha-1;…

Mesbah was built by an Italian company, Carlo Gavazzi Space, while Sinah-1 is believed to be a domestically-built satellite.

Spacetoday also provides a link to an article at the website of Kommersant, ‘New Russia’s first independent newspaper’ (or so they say):

It became known yesterday [the article is from Feb. 02 – RG], that Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed the order that lets the Ministry of Defense launch two Iranian satellites Mesbah and Sinah-1 from Plisetsk space-vehicle launching site. A year ago Teheran officially announced that they would launch a satellite by itself and from its territory. Moscow persuaded not to and helped it to escape the American attack.

The United States of America were finishing its preparations for the attack on Iraq. But apparently, they had already calculated, both in Washington and Teheran, that Iran would be the next target. That was the reason why Iranian military men decided to use the radical means of defense. Since then, the problem of the launch its own satellite and Iranian atomic industry became the most critical issues in the relations between Teheran and Washington.

…But the ten million U.S. dollars contract of the building of the apparatus on Mita platform and its launch to the 900 km orbit was signed only in February 2003, right after the Iranian Ministry of Science, Researches and Technologies signed the appropriate agreement with Italian Carlo Gavazzi Space.

At the same time, Tehran started creating by itself a spy satellite Sinah-1, weighting some 20 kg, that was supposed to be launched by the carrier, created on Shihab base….

At the same time general Vahid insisted on the fact that Iran had no plans on creating intercontinental ballistic rockets able to reach the USA: “the American territories are beyond our defense strategy.” However, he admitted that “the main task is to strike Israeli targets if the Iran uder the Israeli attack.” However these words were not convincing. A carrier able to deliver a satellite to the near-earth orbit is also able to deliver a war-head anywhere on earth.

It was reported that Italy, China, Mongolia, Pakistan and Thailand were assisting Iran in the launch. But due to political reasons they stopped that. The majority of Iranian partners were afraid the United States would applied sanctions against them.

Russia helped Iran to complete it. The collaboration between Russia and Iran in the space sphere started in February 2003. At that moment the Iranian Ministry of post, telegraph and telephone concealed the $125 million contract prepared by the Russian Aviaexport. The Contract provided the creation of Zohreh satellite. It was supposed to build at the research-and-production society of applied mechanics [RPSAM] and launch it by means of Soyuz-U carrier at the end of 2004. But the bargain skidded… But Moscow didn’t want to discover the executor of the contract, being afraid that the USA would apply sanctions against RPSAM. At that time RPSAM was cooperating with foreign companies in creating telecommunication satellites Express-AM series for the Russian orbital group to be renewed. As a result the Zohreh contract wasn’t signed.

But the signing of he agreement on Zohrah launch was just a screen for a more serious bargain. As Kommersant learned, Prime Minister Fradkov signed the order to let Ministry of Defense to launch two Iranian satellites Mesbah and Sinah-1 to the near-earth orbit, carried by a light carrier Kosmos-3M from Plesetsk space-vehicle launching site in the second quarter of 2005. The document also gives foreign experts the access to the ministry of Defense objects situated on the site, where all the works connected with the launch will be done.

Novosti, a Russian news service, reports on the same day that

Should Iran decide to launch a satellite with its own carrier rocket, it could become the last straw for the US, which has virtually passed a verdict on Iran. President Bush has not only included Iran in the “axis of evil,” but also has launched a mechanism for punishing the Iranian regime.

However, such a situation would not suit Russia at all and not only because Russia has contracts worth billions of dollars with Iran. Russia would have to pay a high political price for any repetition of the Iraqi scenario by the Americans in Iran. Turning a blind eye to US actions would mean Moscow would have to accept a secondary role in global affairs, including in the regions that are strategically important for Russia…

Moscow maintained contacts with “rogue states” in the past, and even justified them by saying that isolating the problem countries would be counterproductive and that they should be brought closer to the rest of the world. Russia’s contacts with problem countries are becoming a serious irritant in its relations with the West, while the “rogue states” make Moscow do all the work to protect them from UN sanctions.

Today, Iran has two options. The first is to come to terms with the US and convince it that no threat to peace is emanating from Tehran. The second is to repeat Iraq’s fate, but with the additional aspect of having attached Russia to itself in advance.

(Emphasis mine).

There also is this report by AFP:

MOSCOW – Russia plans to launch later this year Iran’s first two satellites which were built to gather intelligence from space, the business daily Kommersant reported Wednesday.

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has signed a directive permitting the Russian defense ministry to launch the two satellites, named Mesbah and Sinah-1, from the Plesetsk launch site in the far north of the country, the daily said.

A copy of the government directive obtained by AFP confirmed that Russia planned to launch the two Iranian satellites as well as six others from countries including China, Britain, Norway, Germany, Japan and the European Space Agency.

The three-point directive, dated January 24, also stipulated that “foreign specialists” would be given access for the launches to the Plesetsk site, traditionally a closed military facility.

Russia has made no secret of its plans for commercial development of the Plesetsk space launch site as an alternative to its Baikonur site which is located in Kazakhstan but which Moscow has retained control over since the breakup of the Soviet Union under a long-term lease agreement.

Kommersant said th two Iranian satellites were due to be launched between April and June of this year and said they were designed for “distant examination of the earth’s surface,” a term the daily said was the common idiom for intelligence gathering.

One thing seems obvious: This Russian assistance makes any negotiation with Iran pointless. If Russia can’t be persuaded to cease and desist the Mullahs will have to be taken out by force of arms, for any democratic revolution will almost certainly come too late to do any good. Besides, the democratic opposition reportedly supports the Mullahs’ nuclear ambitions, not least because Pakistan already has nukes. So even if the Iranian nuclear program can be taken out successfully, it won’t lead to a democratic uprising against the Mullahs, and may even make the the oppposition rally around them. I think that the Iranian regime will have to be taken out in much the same manner as Saddam Hussein’s.

3 thoughts on “Russia intends to launch Iranian spy satellites”

  1. It seems almost certain we will not invade Iran as we did Iraq. We simply don’t have the time, forces, nor the support of any state other than Australia and perhaps Poland. I’d look for something different. The one thing the military has demonstrated in this campaign is creativity and not falling into ruts. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, it will certainly be interesting.

  2. Who needs a full out war with Iran? All we need to do is bomb a few of their nuclear sites and that would send a pretty strong message.

  3. I had hoped we’d already be botching the invasion of Iran and fueling the insurgency there for the last few months. The Iranians must be prevented from getting nukes by any means necessary.

    “The question is: do we as a society believe that if someone works 40 hours per week, that should be enough to live on? If we do believe that, we need to set our minimum wage laws in such a manner that this is reflected.”

    If we don’t have the forces, then we’d damn well better recruit them. We can’t afford to be in a position where we can’t invade a state like Iran if we need to.

Comments are closed.