Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables show that the United States and Germany allegedly are developing together a spy satellite system despite strong opposition from countries such as France.
The Norwegian daily Aftenposten published the information Monday after the newspaper obtained full access to the website WikiLeaks' cache of some 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.
According to Aftenposten, the cables sent from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin said the satellites are to be operational by 2013.
Due to the controversial nature of the program, U.S. and German officials deemed to present it to the public as a civilian project with environmental aims. In reality, the cables reportedly say the project is "under the total control" of the German intelligence service and the German aerospace center.
The diplomatic cables, sent from February 2009 to February 2010, also detail how a number of countries - especially France - have tried to stop the project.
The project - named HiROS - reportedly would have the capability of detecting objects on the ground as small as 50 centimeters in diameter and provide images three to five times a day. The system also would have the ability to take infrared images at night, capture activity underground and send images much faster back to earth than satellites currently in service.