Germany hesitating on subs sale to Israel (WORLD TRIBUNE) LONDON 11/18/03)
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LONDON ó Germany is balking at an Israeli request for at least two
Dolphin-class diesel submarines.
German officials and industry sources said the considerations for the
sale will focus on whether Israel would use the submarines for
nuclear or strategic strikes against Iran or Arab adversaries. The
officials said this has been the growing concern by the Bundestag, or
Currently, officials and analysts said, the prospect of an additional
Dolphin submarine sale to Israel appears remote. They cite a steady
reduction of German arms sales to Israel because of concern that they
would be deployed in the war against the Palestinians.
In 2000, Germany completed the delivery of three Dolphin-class
submarines, Middle East Newsline reported. Two of the submarines were
transferred to Israel for free as part of German compensation for
help to Iraq´s missile program in the 1980s.
Iraq fired 42 extended-range Scud-class missiles toward Israel during
the 1991 Gulf war.
"Politically it would be impossible to justify," Otfried Nassauer,
head of the Information Center for Trans-Atlantic Security in Berlin,
said. "It would dangerously heat up the Middle East conflict."
Analysts said that Germany sold Israel $900 million worth of defense
products between 1998 and 2001. They said Germany is one of Israel´s
biggest arms suppliers.
The Dolphin submarines underwent modifications at Germany´s
Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyards. In 1999, the German Defense
Ministry said the underwater vessels were outfitted with 650 mm
artillery pieces capable of launching the U.S.-origin Harpoon missile.
The Berlin government has allowed HDW to enter technical talks with
Israel to prepare for a formal proposal for the Dolphin submarines.
The deal is said to involve at least two submarines.
Today, many German parliamentarians and analysts believe that the
modifications were meant to fire missiles capable of bearing nuclear
warheads. Some of them believe Israel has developed a warhead small
enough to fit on conventional missiles.
Israel has discussed with Germany the prospect of procuring another
two Diesel-class submarines. Industry sources said Israel hopes that
the Dolphins could be manufactured in the United States in an
arrangement that would allow the Jewish state to use U.S. military
aid to finance the purchase.
A U.S. company, the Chicago-based One Equity Partner, has a major
stake in HDW. But One Equity has abandoned efforts to sell HDW to a
U.S. company, such as Northrop Grumman, because nobody offered the
price demanded by the Chicago firm. HDW posted a loss of 122 million
euros in the year that ended on Sept. 30, 2003.
Officials don´t expect Germany to reject Israel´s request for
additional Dolphins. Instead, they expect Germanyís Security
Committee, which makes decisions on weapons contracts, to delay such
"Given the knowledge that the first three boats have been transformed
into atomic launching pads, Germany can only answer the request with
a clear ´No´," Nassauer said. (WORLDTRIBUNE.COM 11/18/03)
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