Israel has launched a new spy satellite to improve the country's capabilities to spy on Iran and other potential enemies in the region, local media said citing a statement from the Defense Ministry.
The Defense Ministry said the Ofeq-9 satellite was launched late Tuesday from the Palmachim air force base south of Tel Aviv by an improved version of the Shavit carrier rocket.
Israeli officials said they should be able to receive the first pictures from the satellite's high-resolution camera by June 25.
The 300-kg Ofek-9 is part of the Ofeq family of earth observation satellites designed and built by Israel Aerospace Industries for military purposes.
The new satellite will operate together with Ofeq-5 and Ofeq-7 satellites, operational since June 2002 and June 2007, respectively.
Israel, which is believed to be the only country in the Middle East to possess nuclear weapons, considers Iran and its controversial nuclear program as a major threat to national security.
Tel Aviv has never ruled out a possibility of a military strike on the Islamic Republic to stop its uranium enrichment.
TEL AVIV, June 23 (RIA Novosti)