Recently, Putin’s regime in Russia announced its intention to sell an advanced surveillance satellite to the Islamic Republic.
Iran is on the march to destroy the established order in the Middle East and replace it with a regional order of its own design. Iran has developed a coterie of capabilities with which to threaten its American, Israeli, and Sunni Arab rivals.
This year, Iran successfully tested its largest heavy-lift rocket yet. Known as the Zuljanah, the rocket has two stages of solid propulsion and a single stage of liquid propulsion. According to Iran’s space agency, the rocket “can compete with the world’s current carriers.”
In fact, these systems can be used to launch military satellites or can be refashioned into intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with which to strike deep and hard against any target in the world – including the distant United States and Europe.
Satellites are essential for modern militaries. They allow for over-the-horizon capabilities that a nation like Iran would otherwise lack. Everything from a more robust communications architecture to stealthy surveillance to better nuclear weapons command-and-control functions, satellites are decisive components for a nation to be able to project power and threaten its rivals from afar.
The Russian-built Kanopus-V satellite will be equipped with a high-resolution camera that would allow Iran’s military to track potential targets all across the Middle East. Specifically, the surveillance satellite would allow Iran’s military “continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house US troops.”
More frighteningly, reports have surfaced that Iran might also be trying to move its precision-guided missiles into Venezuela and Cuba, to threaten world peace further. An enhanced military satellite capability would only help this aggressive behavior.
If Iran can build and test a nuclear weapon and prove that it has the capability to build and launch a satellite, even a small one, it will join a new category of states that could be referred to as ‘mini-superpowers.