Earlier on Tuesday, Russia launched an into from Kazakhstan and into orbit amid a dispute that Moscow may use it to improve surveillance of Ukrainian military targets.

The Soyuz 2.1b carrying the Khayyam satellite was launched from the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome at the scheduled time at 05:52 GMT (11:22 am), according to a live broadcast from Roscosmos, the Russian .

Russia’s Mission Control confirmed that it then entered orbit.

Iran, which has been in touch with Moscow and has not criticized the Ukrainian incursion, sought to deflect suspicions that Moscow might use Khayyam to spy on .

Last week, the U.S. daily The Washington Post, citing unnamed Western intelligence officials, said Russia “plans to use the satellite for months or more” to aid its effort before allowing Iran to take control.

But Iran’s agency said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic would take control of the Khayyam satellite “from day one.”

It said that because of its “encryption algorithm”, “no third country will be able to access the information sent by the satellite”.

The agency said Khayyam was designed to “monitor national borders,” increase agricultural productivity, and monitor water resources and natural disasters.

In a pre-launch statement Monday, ISA praised the “high reliability factor of the Soyuz launcher.”

“Because the Khayyam satellite weighs more than half a ton and the success rate of the Soyuz launcher is very high, the launch of the Khayyam satellite has been entrusted to Russia,” the statement on the agency’s website states.

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With Moscow increasingly isolated internationally as Western sanctions on Ukraine weigh, the is looking to pivot Russia towards the Middle East, Asia and Africa and find new clients for the country’s program.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran — one of the few times he has since the invasion began. one of the visits.

‘Long-term cooperation’

Apparently named after the 11th-century Persian polymath Omar Khayyam, Khayyam won’t be Russia’s first Iranian satellite into – in 2005, Iran’s Sina-1 satellite was launched from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome deploy.

Iran is currently negotiating with world powers, including Moscow, to salvage a 2015 deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

The United States – which withdrew from the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA under then-President Donald Trump in 2018 – accused Iran of effectively backing Russia’s war against Ukraine while applying a “veil of neutrality”.

In a meeting with Putin last month, Iran’s Khamenei called for “long-term cooperation” with Russia, while Tehran refused to join the in condemning Moscow’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbor.

Iran insists its program is for civilian and purposes only and does not violate the 2015 nuclear deal or any other international agreement.

Western governments are concerned that satellite launch systems use technology interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles and capable of delivering nuclear warheads, and Iran has long denied it wants to build it.

Iran successfully put its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, which has been harshly condemned by the United States.

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