The Washington Post, quoting three official sources, reported that Russia will supply Iran with an advanced spy satellite that will enable it to track military targets in the Middle East, including military bases in Israel. Russian President Putin called the report "fake news" and "nonsense, garbage." An Israeli expert on missiles, Tal Inbar, said that if the report is accurate, it would mean that Iran would be able to freely obtain intelligence as well as transfer imagery to Israel's neighbors to the north and the south.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Russia intends to supply Iran with an advanced satellite that will enable it to track military targets in the Middle East. The satellite in question is the Kanopus-V, which is equipped with a high-resolution camera, and could be launched into space from Russia within months. The satellite will track various facilities ranging from oil production refineries in the Persian Gulf and Israeli military bases to Iraqi bases that house U.S. Army units.
A senior official "briefed on the sale" added that the satellite was actually designed for civilian purposes. Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps have travelled to Russia several times since 2018 to discuss the deal with the Russians, and Russian experts traveled to Iran to train crews that will operate the satellite from a new facility built near Karaj, west of Tehran. In April 2020, the Revolutionary Guard announced that it had launched a military satellite into orbit around the earth.
The Russian Kanopus-V, which is described as a small satellite intended for remote sensing, was originally built by the Russian Defense Ministry for civilian purposes. It has a five-year lifecycle, weighs 473kg and is launched from Soyuz-2 launchers. In an interview with NBC News ahead of the G-7 summit in Geneva, Russian President Putin said the report about the spy satellite for Iran is "fake news," claiming "I don't know anything about this kind of thing, those who are speaking about it probably will maybe know more about it. It's just nonsense, garbage."
An Israeli expert on missiles, Tal Inbar, told Israel Defense that the Kanopus-V is an old satellite and there is no sign that the report is accurate. But if the Iranians obtain such a satellite, it would mean that Iran would be able to freely obtain intelligence as well as transfer pictures to Israel's neighbors to the north and the south. "A satellite that you control could transfer imagery of Iron Dome or of other moving targets," Inbar said. "However, the satellite in question is not of good quality and not worth much. If the report is confirmed, its significance should be seriously examined."