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Russia launched an Iranian satellite into space on Tuesday, just weeks after Moscow announced plans to abandon the International Space Station over the next two years.
The launch, which took off from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan, put the Khayyam satellite into orbit.
Iran says the satellite, named after a 12th-century Persian scientist, will be used to improve agricultural productivity, but fears have been raised that Russia will use it to monitor Ukraine and Tehran could use it to monitor Israel.
Two Western security officials told the Washington Post last week that Moscow has informed Iran that it will use the high-resolution camera on the satellite to monitor military targets in Ukraine for “several months.”
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The satellite will eventually give Iran “unprecedented ability” to monitor sensitive facilities in Israel and other parts of the Middle East, the official told the newspaper.
The launch also comes when space cooperation between Russia and the West breaks down during Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
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Yuri Borisov, the head of the recently appointed Russian space company Roscosmos, said last month that Russia will leave the International Space Station in the next two years.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said in late July, noting that Russia will fulfill its commitments with its partners before leaving.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.