Thursday, February 7, 2008

Israel set to use Indian rockets to launch 'spy' satellites

Israel will continue using Indian carrier rockets to launch its military satellites into space despite objections from Iran, The Indian Express quoted an Israeli source as saying on Thursday.

"Since we have limited capacity to launch rockets, we are looking for partners in this regard, and India is a natural partner since we have such good relations," a senior Israeli diplomat said.

Israel and India signed in 2004 a space cooperation agreement that envisions India's participation in a variety of Israeli military satellite projects.

On January 21, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched a PSLV rocket carrying an Israeli-made Tecsar spy satellite into orbit from India's Shriharikota space center, prompting an angry reaction from Tehran.

Iran urged India earlier this week not to allow its space technology to be used "for spying on friendly countries."

According to military experts, the 300-kg Tecsar, reportedly Israel's seventh satellite, is a highly-advanced model capable of monitoring movement on Earth irrespective of light or weather conditions.

It could be used primarily to spy on Iran in light of Tehran's controversial nuclear program and recent advances in missile technology.

Iran's Shahab-3 ballistic missile is believed to have a range of at least 1,300 kilometers (800 miles), putting Israel in range.

On Monday, Iran successfully launched a research rocket into space, raising suspicions that the Islamic Republic might be close to developing long-range ballistic missiles which could potentially deliver nuclear warheads, targeting Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East.

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