Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) are close to cementing a free trade deal that would see Tehran join the trade bloc built around former Soviet republics by the end of 2017. Once this happens, Iran will also be poised to participate in the EAEU’s nascent space activities.
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) plans to create a joint remote earth sensing system by integrating the space- and ground-based capabilities of its member states, to include Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, by 2019.
Timur Suleimenov, the minister of ecomomy from Kazakstan, said that “We believe we can come up with something substantial by the end of the year…finished talks. We would like to have a framework signed then.”
The EAEU remote sensing project involves the creation of a commercial company that will integrate the space- and ground-based systems and provide satellite imaging to global customers, Nikolai Kushnaryov, Director of the Department of Industrial Policies at the Eurasian Economic Commission, explained in April 2017. The provision of this satellite imagery will through an integrated web portal that will allow users to monitor urban and industrial areas, infrastructure and transport corridors, as well as agricultural land management applications. Not mentioned by EAEU, but presumably available, will be satellite imagery for security applications.
Iran has already contracted with Russian satellite manufacturers for the provision of its National Remote Sensing Satellite (NRSS), and has a space cooperation agreement with Kazakhstan that includes access to the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Further, Iran is known to be building a range of small experimental remote sensing satellites, to include its Soha and Doosti satellites due to be launched by 2018.
A successful free trade deal between Iran and the EAEU would significantly bolster Russian influence in Central Asia and the Middle East, and will also provide a foothold for Russian space and satellite companies to establish themselves further in both regions.