New Statute for ISA: more confinement or more freedom?
September 11, 2008 at 9:11 am
Parviz Tarikhi heads the Microwave Remote Sensing Department at the Mahdasht Satellite Receiving Station. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) 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 conducted the Office for Specialized International Co-operation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer.
The Iranian Space Agency (ISA) was established on February 1, 2004 according to the Article 9 of the Law for Tasks and Authorizations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology passed on December 10, 2003 by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which received the approval of the Guardian Council of the Constitution of IR Iran on June 18, 2005. The Guardian Council’s main task is monitoring and control of the consistency of passed laws by the Parliament with the Islamic laws and regulations.
Based on the approved statute ISA mandated to cover and support all the activities in IR Iran concerning the peaceful applications of space science and technology under leadership of a Supreme Council of Space chaired by the President of IR Iran. 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.
ISA continued implementing its tasks and duties under 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 Sciences, Research and Technology”, “Supreme Council of Information Technology”, “Supreme Council of Communications”, “Supreme Council of Space”, “Supreme Council of Atomic Energy”, “Supreme Council of Communication Media Security ”, “Supreme Council of Education and Training”, “Supreme Council of Educational Revolution Logistics”, “Supreme Council of Informatics”, “Supreme Council of Science Applications”, “Supreme Council of Biotechnology” and “Supreme Council of 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 “Science, Research and Technology Commission” under the Cabinet of IR Iran.
Change in the status of the Supreme Council of Space urged the revision in the statute of the Iranian Space Agency to allow it for functioning according the legislations and approved laws and regulations. In this connection the Council of Ministers of IR Iran on June 15, 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 July 2, 2008.
The most important change in the new statute in comparison to the former one is that the supervision of the Supreme Council of Space with the leadership of the President of IR Iran has been cancelled. As a result the Agency is only an administration under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that reports to the related Minister. It is indeed the indication of the limitation and confinement for the Agency albeit the new statue provides the Agency 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. The new statue moreover authorizes 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 the Iranian Space Agency according to new law to receive the approved tariffs for offering the space services charges 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 is 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.
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