EghtesadOnline: Iranian space scientists’ capabilities have been tapped by law enforcement forces to enhance the country’s war against drugs.
On Monday, Iranian Space Research Center Chief Hossein Samimi and Iranian Anti-Narcotics Police Chief Brigadier-General Mohammad Masoud Zahedian signed an agreement.
As per the agreement, remote sensing technologies are to be employed for intensifying Iran’s anti-narcotics war, the ICT Ministry’s website reported.
The accord also calls on the law enforcement body and the Iranian academia to expand collaborations in various fields, including research and development, as well as training police forces for using cutting edge technologies in their operations, Financial Tribune reported.
According to the ICT Ministry, the agreement will be mostly focused on the application of remote sensing technologies.
Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object in contrast to on-site observation. Applications of RS would enable the police to carry out more precise operations.
Zahedian said, “By employing cutting edge technologies, the operations of law enforcement forces would get a boost.”
According to the general, the agreement was initiated by ISRC’s parent agency—Iran’s ICT Ministry.
“ISRC has taken giant leaps in promoting the application of space sciences,” he added.
The research center’s president pointed to ISRC’s efforts in the field of space economy which, according to Samimi, is booming worldwide.
Samimi said commercializing space sciences and “offering space-based services to other state agencies have been placed high on ISRC’s agenda.”
He believes that remote sensing would enable Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Police to enhance the precision of its field operations.
Poppy Field Scandal
Earlier in January, ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi wrote on Twitter, “While monitoring the country’s agricultural lands, the Iranian Space Research Center came across a 70-hectare farm where poppy is being cultivated.”
In response to Jahromi’s tweet, the anti-narcotics police chief denied the report and told ISNA that if the news was accurate, “it meant Iran’s police are asleep”.
Denying the existence of poppy farms in Iran, the general explained that "the wavelength of the light reflected from poppy is similar to the one emitted by wild poppy, therefore the two have been confused”.
Jahromi was quick to respond, “The research center’s report about cultivating poppy is accurate and detailed. I’ve invited the anti-narcotics police chief to the center to check the details and he has welcomed the invitation.”
Iran’s Space Ambitions
Over the past few months, Iran’s space program has been highlighted by the ICT minister and other policymakers, including President Hassan Rouhani.
According to earlier reports, the country plans to develop three satellites before the end of the current fiscal year (March 19, 2020).
Iranian Space Agency’s Chief Morteza Barari says, “Despite [US] sanctions against Tehran, Iran is set to develop three satellites before the end of the current Iranian year.”
Referring to space sciences and the country’s space program a strategic field, Barari said Iran has made remarkable headway in the field.
According to the ISA director, the agency’s space program includes satellite data analysis and “must play a pivotal role in countering natural and manmade disasters”.
Barari noted that space industries can contribute to the country’s economic development while singling out the pivotal role of satellite imagery and analysis in crop management.
“There is no need to emphasize the importance of satellite data in navigation and trade,” he said.
Iran had attempted to put two satellites—Dousti and Payam—into orbit over the past months, which failed.
Dousti (friendship in Persian) was a locally-made micro-class 52-kg satellite that was put into orbit at an altitude of 250-310 km. It reportedly had a spatial resolution of 10 meters.
Payam (message in Persian), a micro-class 100-kg non-military satellite, was to orbit about 500-600 km above the Earth's surface and undertake imagery and telecom tasks.
According to officials, another launch will be made in the near future. A satellite dubbed Nahid1 is reportedly ready and will be delivered to the Defense Ministry for launch. Nahid1 is to orbit the Earth at an altitude of 250 km.
Another satellite, Pars1, will be ready by early 2020. Iranian scientists are also working on a satellite named Zafar.
ISRC is also developing Nahid2 for communication purposes.