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Peres: New Israeli spy satellite gives Israel "significant" edge

Israel Materials 24 June 2010 01:49
Israel's new, successfully-launched Ofek 9 spy satellite gives it a "significant and qualitative advantage" over others in collecting intelligence information from across the globe, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday.
Peres: New Israeli spy satellite gives Israel "significant" edge

Israel's new, successfully-launched Ofek 9 spy satellite gives it a "significant and qualitative advantage" over others in collecting intelligence information from across the globe, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday.

"Both the launcher and the satellite are Israel-made and this is an achievement of an international scope, but with an Israeli flavour," a statement from his Jerusalem office quoted Peres as saying, DPA reported.

He made the remarks in a telephone call to the control room at the Palmachim airbase, south of Tel Aviv, from where the satellite was launched at 10 pm (1900 GMT) Tuesday.

Israel's Channel 10 television evening news called Ofek 9 the "new Israeli eye" in space.

With higher resolution images and a greater geographic accuracy than its predecessors, it called the satellite "critical" for monitoring Iran's nuclear programme.

The Israel Defence Ministry was not publishing its full capabilities, it noted.

Israel now has six active spy satellites in space which enable it to photograph locations anywhere across the globe every few minutes.

The satellite was launched westwards over the Mediterranean so as not to cross over other states and entered into orbit at a height of 300 kilometres above the Earth, completing its first round in 90 minutes, Channel 10 said.

  "This provides Israel with greater operational flexibility since we now have another set of eyes on a target," said Chaim Eshed, director of space programming at the Defence Ministry's research and development department.

"It looks great, it looks all the systems work optimally," he told the channel.

"This is in fact our insurance policy that we will not be surprised. And therefore it is a serious addition to our strength," he said. "It doesn't matter where it takes pictures - in Sudan, in Iran, in Libya, whereever you want, you name it. It's important."

Head of the air staff Brigadier General Nimrod Shefer said Israel was "interested in a lot of things, not just Iran."

But in a clear hint to Tehran, whose nuclear programme Israel regards as an existential threat, he added:

"I think the other side is well aware of the state of Israel's capabilities. I think it understands the significance of another satellite very well. I do think that those who are looking at us absolutely have a reason ... to worry that we will know how to carry out what we need to carry out."

Iran denies it has a nuclear programme for military purposes, insisting it serves civilian, energy purposes only.

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