Israel launches propulsion rocket in early morning test

Observers speculate the Defense Ministry fired a Jericho missile, which according to foreign reports can carry a nuclear warhead

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Israel tested a rocket propulsion system in the center of the country on Monday, the Defense Ministry announced.

“A few minutes ago Israel tested a rocket propulsion system from a base in the center of the country,” the ministry said in a brief statement just after 7 a.m. on Monday.

“The test was arranged in advance by the security services and was carried out as planned,” it said.

Based on eyewitness accounts, the rocket test took place at the Palmachim air base, outside of the city of Rishon Lezion, in central Israel.

A projectile could be seen clearly, streaking through the sky.

Commentators speculated that the system tested Monday could be installed in surface-to-surface missiles such as the Jericho, which, according to foreign reports, can be equipped with a nuclear warhead.

In December, the US Congress approved $600 million for ongoing missile defense cooperation with Israel for the 2017 fiscal year, with provisions specifically authorizing $268.7 million in research and development funding for US-Israel cooperative missile and rocket defense programs; $62 million for procurement of the Iron Dome rocket defense system; $150 million for procurement of the David’s Sling medium-range missile defense system; and $120 million for procurement of the Arrow-3 long-range missile defense system.

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