CAIRO, EGYPT – Iran’s reported desire to purchase a Russian advanced satellite system is not “particularly concerning” to U.S. security in the region, according to the commander who oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East.
In an interview with VOA, Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said Russia’s Kanopus-V satellite is not effective at targeting.
“You really can’t do much with it,” he said. “It would probably allow them to see something the size of a school bus, which is not going to be particularly concerning to us.”
Earlier this month, U.S. and Middle East officials told The Washington Post that Iranian military officials have been deeply involved in the satellite acquisition and have made multiple trips to Russia since 2018 to work on an agreement to buy the system. While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, Iranian military officials have been heavily involved in the acquisition, and leaders of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have made multiple trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the terms of the agreement, the officials said.
The Koanupus-V is marketed for civilian use, and McKenzie said some commercial imagery options provide better visuals than what the satellite’s high-resolution camera could capture.
“While it might seem attractive to put it (the satellite) into space on a Russian rocket, if that’s the way they want to spend their money and do it, they should go ahead,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iranian-backed militia have continued to attack U.S. and NATO forces in Iraq with small, armed drones.
“We’ve been attacked three times over the last little over a month,” McKenzie said.
He and other military officials have told VOA that Iran has shifted to using compact, kinetic attacks because their armed drones can cause damage to U.S. resources without amassing casualties, keeping the threat just below a level that might spark retaliation from the United States.
“It’s a very dangerous path that they’re on,” warned McKenzie, “and they’re doing it because, as we should remember, they failed and their principal aim, which was a political objective of having us leave Iraq.”
The military is still conducting forensic analysis right now to determine exactly where the drones used in the latest attacks on U.S. forces originated.