More significant role for Iran’s space administration

November 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

Parviz Tarikhi ( is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) since 2000, including as Second Vice-Chair and Rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he led the Office for Specialized International Cooperation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer who has made in the meantime years of research and study on the developments and status of space science and technology with a particular focus on Iran.

Following the annexation of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) to Iran’s Presidency Institution that was put in force by the approval of the Iranian Administrational Supreme Council on 29 September 2010, the activity of ISA under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was concluded after about 7 years. The President of I. R. Iran has appointed Dr. Hamid Fazeli as the in-charge of the presidency for ISA who will work as the I.R. Iran President’s Deputy in the meantime.1 This new administrational promotion is the indication of the significance of Iran’s space endeavor for the government.

ISA was established on 1 February 2004 according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed on 10 December 2003 by the Parliament of Iran. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a Supreme Council of Space chaired by Iran’s President. The Council’s main goals included policy making for the application of space technologies aiming peaceful uses of outer space, manufacturing, launching and use of the national research satellites, approving the space related state and private sector programs, promoting the partnership of the private and cooperative sectors in efficient uses of space, identifying guidelines concerning the regional and international cooperation in space issues. To follow and implement the strategies set by the Council, ISA affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in the form of an autonomous organization, was organized. The President of ISA held the position of the Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the secretariat of Supreme Council of Space at the same time. 2, 3

The space agency continued implementing its tasks and duties under the supervision of the ‘Supreme Council of Space’ until when the government decided to merge the supreme councils according to the approval of Administrational Supreme Council in August 2007 and in line with the implementation of the IV Development Program of the country.  The ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was established by merging the ‘Council of Science, Research and Technology’ and  11 supreme councils including Information Technology, Communications, Space, Atomic Energy, Communication Media Security, Education and Training, Educational Revolution Logistics, Informatics, Science Applications, Biotechnology, and Standards. However, the new ‘Supreme Council of Education, Research and Technology’ was dissolved soon after in February 2008 and its functions were put on the newly set-up of “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Iranian Cabinet. 4, 5

Change in the status of the Supreme Council of Space urged the revision in the statute of ISA to allow it for functioning according to the legislations and approved laws and regulations. In this connection the Council of Ministers of IR Iran on 15 June 2008 approved the amendments to the statute of ISA approved in June 2005 which following the investigations of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran led to final approval on 2 July 2008. The most important change in the new statute in comparison to the former one was that the supervision of the Supreme Council of Space with the leadership of the President of Iran has been cancelled. As a result ISA became only an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that was responsible to report to the relevant Minister. It was actually the indication of the limitation and confinement for the Agency although the new statute provided ISA with more financial authorization to focus and regulate its efforts for institutionalization of space activities and benefiting the potentials and available sources to reach its goals.6 The new statute moreover authorized ISA to proceed for establishing space research centers and firms with the endorsement of the Council for Development of Higher Education. This task was not included in the older statute of ISA approved in June 2005. Also authorizing ISA according to new law to receive the approved tariffs for offering the space services charged the Agency to act based on the rates approved by the Cabinet and settle the funds to the state public revenue account. Furthermore, in line with the Article 68 of the Law for Management of Country Service approved in 2007, ISA in coordination of the Presidential Deputyship of Management and Human Assets Development was authorized to make necessary superior payments with the endorsement of the Cabinet to draw and retain appropriate human resources for the specialized and managerial positions. 7

The Iranian Parliament considered the dissolution of the councils as illegal in continuation and decided to revive the dissolved councils however the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran returned the approval of the Parliament for revision and amendments. By the approval of the Expediency Council on 27 September 2008 the State was mandated to revive the dissolved councils after 8 months since their dissolution. Reviving of the Supreme Council of Space raised the need for mandatory change of the statute of ISA. The statute was needed to ratify the relation of the revived Supreme Council of Space with ISA and redefine the functions and duties of the Agency in the new configuration based on the aims and mandates of the Supreme Council of Space. This ratification did not took place in practice however by the recent administrational promotion of ISA the need for setting up a newer statute based on the new administrational changes to be approved by the Iranian Parliament is a must.

Mr. Fazeli is the fifth president of the Iranian Space Agency who is appointed since the establishment of ISA. He holds a PhD degree in Mechanics from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Before appointment as the in-charge of the presidency of ISA he was working as the president of the Aerospace Research Institute (ARI) of Iran since February 2009.   ISA’s first president, Mr. S. Hassan Shafti, conducted the Agency from its establishment in February 2004 to 18 October 20052 while the second president, Mr. Ahmad Talebzadeh, headed the Agency by 29 July 2008.8 Mr. Reza Taghipour (currently the Minister of Communications and Information Technology) was the successor of the second president who presided the agency by 22 September 2009.2 He was replaced by Mr. Muhammad Ali Forghani whose presidency lasted by 29 September 2010.


[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): Appointment of the in-charge of the  presidency for the Iranian Space Agency by I.R. Iran President, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 19 October 2010,  (accessed 29 October 2010)

[2] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 264-268 & 286

[3] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran’s space program; Riding high for peace and pride, Space Policy International Journal (Elsevier), Issue 3, Volume 25, August 2009, pp. 160-173 (DOI: 10.1016/j.spacepol.2009.05.010).

[4] Tarikhi, Parviz: Is there a Need for New Space Law? Tehran, 9 November 2008,  (accessed 29 October 2010)

[5] Tarikhi, Parviz: New Statute for ISA- more confinement or more freedom? Tehran, 11 September 2008, (accessed 29 October 2010)

[6] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iranian Cabinet approves new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency Tehran, 22 July 2008, (accessed 29 October 2010)

[7] Tarikhi, Parviz: Statutes of Iranian Space Agency (2005 & 2008), Journal of Space Law, USA, Vol. 34, No. 2, winter 2008, 15 pp., December 2008, (accessed 29 October 2010)

[8] Gabrynowicz, Joanne Irene: Mr. Ahmad Talebzadeh appointed Director General, Department of External Relations and Legal Affairs for Asian-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization in Beijing, China, 10 February 2010, (accessed 29 October 2010)

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