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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spy Satellite Launched for Israel

JERUSALEM -- Russia on Tuesday evening launched a spy satellite for Israel that the Israelis say will be used to spy on Iran's nuclear program, as Iran's leader persisted with his calls for the Jewish state's destruction.

A Russian official said the satellite reached orbit, but experts said it would be some time before it could be determined if the satellite was operational.

Interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that he takes threats by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map "very seriously."

"We do not take it lightly," Olmert said, speaking from Jerusalem by satellite relay to an Anti-Defamation League meeting in Washington. "We are powerful and able to defend ourselves."

Ahmadinejad on Monday said Israel was a "fake regime" that "cannot logically continue to live." Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Iran had already funneled $10 million to Palestinian militant groups this year, according to a newspaper report Tuesday.

The Eros B satellite is designed to spot images on the ground as small as 70 centimeters, a defense official said. That level of resolution would allow Israel to gather information on Iran's nuclear program and its long-range missiles, which are capable of striking Israel, he said.

The satellite launch took place from a mobile launch-pad at Svobodny Cosmodrome in Siberia at 8:47 p.m Moscow time, said Alexei Kuznetsov, a spokesman for the military space forces.