updated 6/11/2007 1:21:11 AM ET 2007-06-11T05:21:11

Israel’s military launched a spy satellite early Monday, the Defense Ministry said, and a senior official suggested it could help keep track of developments in Iran.

The Ofek 7 satellite was “launched and successfully injected into orbit,” the ministry said in a statement. Israel’s Army Radio said its resolution was high enough to detect objects of 28 inches on the ground.

The chief of the Defense Ministry’s space program, Haim Eshed, suggested that the satellite could be used to counter Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. When asked if the Ofek-7 could be used to strike Iran, Eshed said “Intelligence is intelligence and you can do with the intelligence what the leaders decide.”

“But this is definitely intelligence on the best level that it’s possible to obtain from satellite systems,” Eshed told Army Radio.

The satellite weighs 66 pounds, is 7.5 feet long and will operate at least four years, Israel Radio reported.

The launch was carried out at 2:40 a.m. local time, Israel Radio reported. Ofek 7 is to replace Ofek 5, which has been orbiting for almost five years.

Ofek 5’s life had to be extended when the launch of its planned replacement, Ofek 6, failed two years ago.

Israel has labeled Iran as its most serious strategic threat.

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