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Russia, Iran discuss tech manufacturing, infosec and e-governance collaboration

Proposed working group would see Moscow's miltech conglomerate Rostec operate in Tehran

Iran's Communications Ministry joined in a pledge with Russian state-owned defence and technology conglomerate Rostec to explore future collaboration in e-government, information security, and other areas.

News of the collaboration came in a statement published on Friday by Iran's Information Technology Organization (ITO) – a government agency charged with developing policy related to data networks and digital services.

The statement details a meeting between the ITO and Rostec – Russia's massive conglomerate of science and technology companies, many of them focussed on defence or industrial applications. Rostec has the goal of fostering technology development within Russia and finding export opportunities.

The latter are currently hard to find, given the extensive sanctions imposed on Russia over its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

If any nation understands how such sanctions bite it's Iran, which has been subject to similar embargoes and restrictions.

The ITO's account of the meeting says it covered production of electronics, cyber security, optical fiber equipment, 5G, e-government and urban transportation, with Rostec expressing a desire to co-operate on those topics through a joint working group.

The prospect of Rostec establishing a presence in an Iranian technology park was also raised.

Russia and Iran are both credibly accused of using deniably-distant malicious cyber actors to attack systems and spread misinformation abroad. The prospect of collaboration between the two nations improving their offensive or defensive capabilities is not welcome.

Both nations also struggle to secure all the tech they'd like to get their hands on in pursuit of military, intelligence, and governance goals. Exploring manufacturing collaboration could ease those challenges – or perhaps Russia is keen to know how Iran accesses gray market hardware sold by unscrupulous gulf state resellers.

The e-government aspect of the talks is less obviously a threat, although the prospect of two far-from-democratic regimes improving the efficiency of their operations is hard to celebrate. ®

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