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Israeli spy technology pictures Tehran neighborhood


Al Wilayah
June 16, 2002


Showing off the capabilities of its new Ofek 5 spy satellite, Isr**l presented its outgoing army chief General Shaul Mofaz on Sunday, June 16, with high-resolution pictures of the neighborhood where he was brought up in Tehran, news agencies reported.

Isr**li military radio said the images of the Iranian capital proved the satellite is equipped with cameras which are "among the best in the world," reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Mofaz, whose term as chief of staff ends early July, immigrated to Isr**l with his parents from Iran at the age of nine. He is set to be replaced by his current deputy, General Moshe Yahalon.

Isr**l launched the Ofek-5 May 28 to spy on its neighbors and lift itself into an exclusive club of states with satellite programs, reported AFP.

The satellite, which circles the earth every 90 minutes, will provide pictures on troop movements, missile-launcher locations or the construction of nuclear sites, according to military experts.

It is able to take pictures of objects as small as a meter (yard) in length from a distance of 450 kilometers (280 miles).

Isr**li specialists have already linked up with the new Ofek-5 (Horizon, in Hebrew) spy satellite, which started sending images as early as Friday, May 31.

“There is not a single dot in the Middle East that escapes the spy satellite's eye,” the Isr**li daily newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, said in May.

According to AFP, the paper stressed that Isr**l is now part of the "very exclusive club of space spying, to which the United States, China and Russia also belong."

It was the only satellite in the world launched in the opposite direction of the Earth's rotation, from east to west, so as prevent it falling into an Arab state if it crashed during take-off, AFP said.

The satellite was launched only three days after Iran announced it had successfully tested its Shahab-3 missile, whose 1,300-kilometer (808-mile) range could allow it to strike any point in Isr**l.

“We know that the last [Iranian] missile test was a success and it is very worrying,” said Isr**li Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

The Ofek-5 is 2.3-meters long and 1.2 meters wide and weighs 300 kilograms (660 pounds).

It replaces the Ofek-3, launched in April 1995 and whose mission came to an end in January 2001.

In January 1998, Isr**l secretly launched Ofek-4, which self-destroyed after it failed to reach its orbit owing to technical problems.

With a four-year-lifespan, Ofek-5 can photograph any region in the world 16 times a day.

The Isr**li press claimed that if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein “decides to take his breakfast in his palace courtyard, Ofek-5 will be able to pinpoint the table on which his meal is being served.”

The satellite launch embodied a policy "which threatens Arab national security as a whole,” an Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement June 12.

Isr**l was attempting to create a "spurious feeling of security by relying on appearances of technological superiority" in response to the effects of the Palestinian Intifada on Isr**l, the spokesman said.

The latest move "provides additional evidence" of Isr**l's "hostile and aggressive intentions toward Arab states" and exposes its quest to expand its "alien" presence and spread its hegemony over the region, he said.

Arab states should "take all necessary measures to face and contain the repercussions" of the missile launch, the spokesman added.

India and Turkey are reported to be among potential customers of the Ofek 5 satellite launched by Isr**l Aircraft Industries on May 28.