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Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Supreme Council of Space in the Way to Play its Supervisory Role

Parviz Tarikhi ( is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree 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.

By the inception of annexing Iran’s space administration to the Presidency Institution based on the approval of the Iranian Administrational Supreme Council on 29 September 2010, the third meeting of the Supreme Council of Space (SCS) was held on 5 March 2011 with the chairmanship of the President of I.R. Iran and other members of the Council including the Minister of Defense and the Armed Forces Logistics, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Minister of Science, Research and Technology, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA). Emphasizing on the importance of the space technologies and the relevant activities of the country the President of I.R. Iran urged the implementation of space programs and the launches. Using all of the available capacities in the country by the space agency in reaching its goals and fulfilling the major space plans of the country in parallel with the regional and global cooperation in the peaceful uses of space technology was highly considered by the President for which he mandated wide and effective presence and contribution of ISA. The head of ISA in the continuation of the meeting stated that after the annexation of ISA to the Presidency Institution the agency aimed to wholly manage country’s space systems and the related technologies; as a result the revision in the strategies and space plans of the country was mandatory. [1]

Following the approval of the statute of the agency on 11 June 2005 SCS held its first meeting on 19 July 2005 with the chairmanship of S. Muhammad Khatami, I.R. Iran’s President of the date. The second meeting of SCS was held a year later in July 2006 chaired by Mahmud Ahmadinejad. However, it was after 56 months that SCS convened for the third time. The reason for this long-term delay was the fluctuations in the status of the Council. SCS legitimized by the approval of establishing a new regime for space issues in Iran according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed by the Parliament of Iran on 10 December 2003. ISA was then established on 1 February 2004. Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in Iran related to the peaceful applications of space science and technology under the leadership of a council named the ‘Supreme Council of Space’ chaired by the President of the state. 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 SCS, 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 SCS at the same time. [2, 3]

ISA continued implementing its tasks and duties under the supervision of SCS until when the state decided to merge the supreme councils relying on 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 Cabinet. [4, 5]

Dissolution of SCS urged the revision in the statute of ISA to allow it to act based on the legislations and approved laws and regulations. To this mean the Council of Ministers of I.R. Iran on 15 June 2008 approved the amendments to the statute of ISA approved on 11 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 statute of 2008 in comparison to the former statute was the cancellation of the supervision of SCS with the leadership of Iran’s President of state. As a result ISA became merely 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 statute of 2005 of ISA. 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. Additionally, 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 sources for the specialized and managerial posts. [7]

In the continuation of above said situation the Parliament of Iran considered the dissolution of the councils as illegal and decided to revive the dissolved councils while the Guardian Council of the Constitution of I.R. 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 SCS raised the need for mandatory change of the statute of ISA. The statute was needed to ratify the relation of the revived SCS with ISA and redefine the functions and duties of ISA in the new configuration based on the aims and mandates of SCS. [8] In practice this ratification has not yet taken place however by the recent administrational promotion of ISA the need for setting up a comprehensive statute based on the new administrational changes to be approved by the Parliament of Iran is necessary.

Lack of SCS’s supervision and control for a period of about 4 years practically led to turmoil in functioning of ISA in terms of concentrated and comprehensive policymaking, economic and efficiency caretaking, and implementing the space related plans and programs. In light of the administrational arbitrations offered to ISA legitimately and the considerable budgetary funds which was supplied to the agency by the state, ISA forced to only play the role of a state contractor to commission the academic and non-civilian as well as private sectors for proposing and implementing the space related research and experimental plans almost with similar aims and as of parallel endeavors. As an example the approximately tripled quantitative growth of the Iranian satellites developed after the launch of Omid in comparison to those which planned before it is the outcome of the above-mentioned approach. [9] It is expected that SCS in its new era of life play its high and pivotal role in supervision and control of the national space agency and take into consideration the important items including,

  • Presenting and interpreting of the realistic visions on the use of space and the applications of space technologies according to which the related and efficient policies and strategies will be configured and take shape.
  • Policy making to employ and use of the most efficient and best existing capacities, sources and possibilities throughout the country with a scientific and national supervision
  • Giving high priority to the international exchanges and interactions believing on the reality that space and space technology applications is substantially of international character and nature.


[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): The third meeting of the Supreme Council of Space was held with the presence of Dr. Ahmadinejad, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 6 March 2011, (accessed 18 March 2011)

[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 17 March 2011)

[5] Tarikhi, Parviz: New Statute for ISA- more confinement or more freedom? Tehran, 11 September 2008, (accessed 17 March 2011)

[6] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iranian Cabinet approves new Statute of the Iranian Space Agency Tehran, 22 July 2008, (accessed 18 March 2011)

[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 16 March 2011)

[8] Tarikhi, Parviz: More significant role for Iran’s space administration, Karaj, Iran, 11 November 2010, (accessed 17 March 2011)

[9] Tarikhi, Parviz: Iran space development; to reach the zenith lets fly altogether as a Simorgh, Karaj, Iran, 7 February 2011, (accessed 17 March 2011)