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Israel launched a new reconnaissance satellite early Monday, the defence ministry said, its latest asset to be deployed against arch-enemy Iran.

“The Israel Ministry of Defence and Israel Aerospace Industries have successfully launched the ‘Ofek 16’ reconnaissance satellite” at 4:00 am local time (0100 GMT), the ministry said in a statement.

The “electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities… will undergo a series of tests,” it added.

Minister of Defence and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz hailed the development.

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“The successful launch of the ‘Ofek 16’ satellite overnight is yet another extraordinary achievement” for Israel’s defence sector, he said.

“Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel… We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place.”

Neither statement gave further details on the satellite’s mission, but Israeli public radio said it would be used to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.

Israel has long sworn to prevent its nemesis from obtaining atomic weapons.

The Islamic republic denies its nuclear programme has any military dimension.

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