Israel is keeping its friends close and its enemies even closer with this morning’s launch of a new spy satellite, the Ofek 16, from a site in central Israel by a locally-developed Shavit rocket, which was used to launch previous Ofek satellites.
Israel’s Defense Ministry announced the successful launch that the ministry says will “provide high-quality surveillance for its military intelligence.” The satellite launch can be viewed as a pre-emptive measure against Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Israel’s network of satellites allows the country to watch the entire Middle East, including Iran. The Defense Ministry describes the Ofek 16 as “an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities.” The first images from the newest satellite are expected to be transmitted next week.
“We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Gantz said that “technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the state of Israel,” yet offered no further details on the satellite’s mission.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi confirmed that Israel is taking action to stop the Iranian nuclear threat, as he responded to a question about a series of mysterious incidents at Iranian facilities, including at Natanz, the Islamic republic’s main uranium-enrichment center, according to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
“We have a long-term policy over the course of many administrations not to allow Iran to have nuclear abilities,” The Jerusalem Post quoted the minister as saying at a conference.
“We take actions that are better left unsaid,” he said.
Iran denies its nuclear program has any military dimension.
The first satellite in the Ofek series was launched in 1988. Today there are five Ofek-series satellites in orbit, not including the “Ofek 16.”
The satellite, which is sending engineers messages of proper functioning will join other satellites already keeping tabs on Iran and other adversaries. While Ofek 16 is similar to Ofek 11 in terms of capabilities, there have been precise improvements that will give maximum operational output.