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"The Italian technology company helped Iran with its Mesbah communications satellite program. "Communications satellites" can of course be easily diverted for military purposes and used, for example, as spy satellites and, more ominously, to help pinpoint nuclear strikes. Despite these risks, the Mesbah project enjoyed Rome's political backing, as La Stampa reported at the time. Italy's ambassador to Tehran back then, Riccardo Sessa, was even present at the 2003 signing ceremony of the deal, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
Under the terms of the agreement, Carlo Gavazzi Space did not just sell a finished product but also transferred technology and know-how. In a 2005 presentation of the Mesbah project posted on the Internet, L. Zucconi, managing director at Carlo Gavazzi Space, explained that his company "has worked in close cooperation with ITRC (Iran Telecommunication Research Center) / IROST (Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology) in the design, development and manufacturing of the MESBAH system. . . . The Flight Model has been manufactured partly in Italy and partly in Iran, with the work sharing scheme defined together with ITRC / IROST. . . . The MESBAH satellite will be controlled from one Ground Station located at Teheran and operated by ITRC / IROST personnel. . . . The 1000 (user) terminals to be used for the service will be produced by Iranian Industries."
"Having initiated the MESBAH project, the I.R. (Islamic Republic) of Iran has acquired a space infrastructure and space capacity," making Iran "a new player in the space community prepared to face new challenging projects." Carlo Gavazzi Space "look[s] forward for future cooperation."
Two months ago, Gen. Mahdi Farahi, director of Iran's Aerospace Industries, said Carlo Gavazzi Space would also help launch into space the successor model, the Mesbah-2. The Italian company denies this." (The Wall Street Journal, "The Rome-Tehran Axis," 1/14/2010)
Outline of the MESBEH project. (Iranian Telecommunication Research Center, "The MESBEH Project", September 2005)