President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied a US media report that Russia is set to deliver an advanced satellite system to Iran that will vastly improve its spying capabilities.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Moscow is preparing to give Iran a Kanopus-V satellite with a high-resolution camera, allowing the Islamic republic to monitor facilities of its adversaries across the Middle East.
Putin, who is expected to hear a range of complaints from US President Joe Biden when they meet Wednesday in Geneva, dismissed the report as “garbage.”
“We have cooperation plans with Iran, including the military and technical cooperation,” he told NBC News in an interview ahead of the summit.
“It’s just fake news. At the very least, 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.”
Biden, who is on his first foreign tour since entering the White House, is expected to raise a slew of complaints with Putin including over election interference and hacking purportedly linked to Russia.
The Washington Post, quoting current and former US and Middle Eastern officials, said the launch of the satellite could happen within months, and is the result of multiple trips to Russia by leaders of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
The satellite, while not of US capabilities, could allow the monitoring of Israeli bases and the US troop presence in Iraq, the report said.
Iran has a tense relationship with many nations in the region including Israel, raising fears by its adversaries it could share imagery with proxies in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
The satellite could be launched in Russia, although Russian trainers have assisted ground crews who would operate the satellite near a new site near the northern Iranian city of Karaj, The Post reported.
Details of the sale also come at a delicate time when world powers are meeting to bring the United States back to the Iran nuclear deal and Tehran back into compliance with it.
The 2015 landmark accord has been hanging by a thread since the United States left it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, leading to Tehran to step up nuclear activities long curtailed by the deal.