JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel will install two massive radar antennae near the Dimona nuclear plant to bolster its defence measures against Iran, the Maariv newspaper reported on Friday.
The 400 metre-high (1,300 feet) antennae will be erected in the Negev desert near a top-secret military site where Israel is widely believed to have developed the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, the paper said.
An Israeli army spokesman said a new installation was being constructed but would not give further details, saying only that it was a "military facility serving current military activities."
Maariv said work on the twin masts, which would be the largest in the region, would begin in two weeks and would be completed in three months, but did not provide details on what the system would be used for.
The newspaper said the antennae were part of a massive new radar system that the United States will deploy in Israel, a project announced by the Pentagon earlier this week.
The deployment comes amid heightened fears regarding Iran's nuclear enrichment programme, which the United States and Israel say is aimed at developing weapons that could threaten the Jewish state's existence.
Iran insists its programme is entirely peaceful.
Israel has long considered Iran its main strategic threat, both because of its nuclear programme and because of repeated statements by Iranian leaders predicting the demise of the Jewish state.
The Pentagon was scheduled to deploy the radar to Israel in the autumn of 2009 for a joint exercise but moved it up a year following high-level talks in Washington.
The United States deployed a similar radar to Japan in 2006 in response to a North Korean missile test.
Also known as X-Band, the AN/TPY2 radar is designed to track ballistic missiles through space and provide ground-based missiles with the targeting data needed to intercept them.
Data from the system will be provided to Israel's missile defence system, but the radar will remain owned and operated by the US military.
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