Words are a lot cheaper than cash.
It is also interesting that the name of the satellite, Sina, is extremely close to the Hebrew word for "hatred" (sin'a.)
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran said the satellite would be purely scientific. But a month after its launch _ and only weeks after the president said Israel should be wiped off the map _ the head of Tehran's space program now says the Sina-1 is capable of spying on the Jewish state.
The launch of the Russian-made satellite into orbit aboard a Russian rocket last month marked the beginning of Iran's space program. Officials say a second satellite _ this one Iranian-built _ will be launched in about two months, heightening Israeli concerns.
The Sina-1's stated purpose is to take pictures of Iran and to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation. Sina-1, with a three-year lifetime, has a resolution precision of about 50 yards.
But as it orbits the Earth some 14 times a day from an altitude around 600 miles, with controllers able to point its cameras as they wish, Sina-1 gives Iran a limited space reconnaissance capability over the entire Middle East, including Israel.
"Sina-1 is a research satellite. It's not possible to use it for military purposes," said Deputy Telecom Minister Ahmad Talebzadeh, who heads the space program.
But he agreed it could spy on Israel.
"Technically speaking, yes. It can monitor Israel," he told The Associated Press. "But we don't need to do it. You can buy satellite photos of Israeli streets from the market."
The Russian company Polyot built the 375-pound satellite for Iran, but Iran had already developed the necessary infrastructure for its space program. The program represents Tehran's drive to prove it can produce advanced technology on its own.
Similarly, Iran has said its nuclear program is peaceful, aimed at producing electricity and showcasing the country's technical prowess _ though the United States believes the program secretly aims to produce nuclear weapons.
Notice how AP says that "the United States believes" as if the rest of the world fully trusts Iran's stated peaceful nuclear ambition.