´Israeli subs can carry nuclear weapons´ (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 06/04/12)
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BERLIN – The German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that
German-manufactured Dolphin-class submarines delivered to the Israel
Navy can be equipped with technology for carrying nuclear warheads.
Over the years there has been a swirl of German media reports about
the nuclear capability of Israel’s submarines, ever since the
shipment of the first Dolphins arrived in the late 1990s.
In an article in Der Spiegel titled “Made in Germany,” experts from
Israel and Germany confirmed that the “ships are armed with nuclear
warheads. And Berlin has long been aware of that.”
The magazine asserts that interviews with Israeli and Western
security officials and intelligence officers “leave no doubt” that
German technology has permitted Israel’s navy to turn underwater
vessels into second-strike capable nucleararmed submarines.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak would not confirm the nuclear capability
of the Dolphin fleet, but told Der Spiegel “Germany helps to defend
Germans should be proud that they have secured the existence of the
State of Israel for many years.”
The Merkel administration declined to confirm in the magazine’s cover
story that the Dolphin submarines are armed with nuclear weapons.
Hans Rühle, who directed the planning department of the German
Defense Ministry from 1982-1988, told Der Spiegel that he assumed
that “the submarines are nuclear capable.”
The magazine wrote that “Popeye turbo SLCM” missile system exists on
the vessels, and the Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense
Systems developed the Popeye system. The submarines can carry cruise
missiles that reach a destination of 1500 km., noted Der Spiegel. The
article added that “missiles can be launched using a previously
secret hydraulic ejection system” on board the vessels.
If the vessels contain nuclear warheads, the highly advanced Dolphin
and Super-Dolphin submarines can enable Israel to launch a second-
strike attack against an aggressor like the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The deterrent effect, following the logic of the Cold War nuclear
standoff between the former Soviet Union and the US, would prevent a
jingoistic country from attacking Israel.
In short, a hostile country should fear the enormous human loss and
infrastructure damage resulting from a retaliatory Israeli nuclear
Germany provided the first two submarines to Israel cost free after
the First Gulf War in 1991, largely because German industry helped
the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein develop chemical/gas weapons,
which could be used against the Jewish state. The administration of
then-chancellor Helmut Kohl worried at the time about the backlash
against Germany’s reputation, because the Federal Republic armed a
regime determined to engage in a lethal gas attack against Jews.
Israel and Germany split the cost of the third submarine.
Three additional Dolphins are slated to be delivered to Israel by
2017. The Defense Ministry may order three more submarines, resulting
in a potential fleet of nine possibly nucleararmed underwater ships.
Der Spiegel noted that the Merkel administration initially demanded
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu back off on further settlement
construction in the West Bank in exchange for the sixth submarine.
According to Der Spiegel, former Israeli ambassador to Germany Yoram
Ben-Ze’ev received a call from National Security Adviser Ya’acov
Amidror in November 2011, while he was in Tel Aviv, telling him to
return to Germany to sign the contract for the sixth submarine.
Merkel ultimately chose not to make Israel’s security hostage to the
The newly advanced Dolphin submarines can remain submerged as long as
18 days, in contrast to earlier models that must reemerge after a few
According to some media commentators, the Der Spiegel report noted no
new startling revelations.
However, the article delved into post-Holocaust German- Israeli
military relations. The magazine produced a historical note
documenting a 1961 meeting among the late prime minister David Ben-
Gurion, President Shimon Peres and the late German Christian Social
Union politician Franz Josef Strauss.
According to the note, Ben- Gurion raised a discussion on the
construction of atomic weapons. Der Spiegel noted that there has only
been speculation regarding Ben-Gurion’s talk about nuclear weapons.
Melody Sucharewicz, a German- Israeli commentator who frequently
appears in the German media, told The Jerusalem Post by email on
Sunday, “This article... is an expression of a new quality of subtle
but effective incitement against Israel.
Stylistically and semantically disguised as neutral journalism,” she
wrote, “they fabricate an image of Israel and German- Israeli
political and diplomatic relations that has little to do with
reality, but promises good quota given the rising trends of Israel
resentment among the German public.
“Germany isn’t ‘largely’ financing the submarine deal as the article
falsely claims at the beginning, but subsidizes a third, partially in
order to save the the Hamburg shipbuilding company from bankruptcy.”
Sucharewicz added that the Der Spiegel article “falsely creates the
impression that Germany grants Israel the capacity for a devastating
nuclear attack against Iran with help of these submarines, whereas if
at all they would provide Israel second-strike capacity and thus
mainly have a deterrent function in the face of Ahmadinejad’s nuclear
ambitions and corresponding threats against Israel.”
Sucharewicz noted that “this trend is dangerous not only for the
future of German-Israeli relations, but also for the German people –
euphemizing the Iranian nuclear threat to the Western world and at
the same time forgetting the historic foundations and shared values
of freedom and democracy on which this relationship was built would
be a self-destructive development.”
Tom Gross, a leading political and media commentator, told the Post
on Sunday, “we have seen speculative news reports of this type
before, some stretching back decades, and one might wonder why Der
Spiegel had decided to repeat this recycled ‘news’ in such a
prominent way now.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/04/12)
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