Israeli submarines with nuclear missiles?

This should be taken with a shaker of salt, but I think it is interesting enough to post about it. Call it a tribute to the National Enquirer if you think it is too improbable.

According to reports originally coming from the Los Angeles Times Israel can now can launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from German-built submarines that were delivered in the late 90s. After its smear-campaign against Schwarzenegger I have doubts about the paper’s credibility, but if true this would be good news. Due to its small size Israel has no room for error so it has to keep track of what its enemies are up to. If they knew that it can retaliate even in the unlikely case of a successful surprise attack would be a quite effective deterrent.

Der Spiegel, also not the most credible source I can think of, reports that the diesel-powered submarines can stay out of port for over four weeks and can sail over 15,000 kilometers (not quite 10,000 miles) in that time; their armament consists of ten torpedoes and Harpoon cruise missiles. The magazine also says that experts had warned years ago that Israel was planning to use the subs as platforms for nuclear weapons. Some members of the German parliament allegedly asked the government if the installation of over-sized torpedo-tubes in the three submarines of the “Delphin” class (with a diameter of 650 instead of 533 millimeters, that’s respectively about 26 and 21.5 inches) indicated such intentions. According to Der Spiegel the German defense-ministry answered that “at the end of the day the federal government can’t exclude any kind of armament”. If the reports are indeed true they were right and Israel has successfully redesigned the “Harpoon” anti-ship missile to carry a small nuclear warhead for use against ground-targets.

According to some experts Haaretz quotes these claims are bogus, which might be right – leaking false information like this and denying it afterwards is still going to keep Israel’s enemies wondering and make them think twice before they try anything. And even if it’s true a boilerplate denial is almost obligatory, to keep them wondering anyway.

And finally, this website claims, in an article that seems to be from a while back, that two of the three submarines had been paid for by the usual German financial support for Israeli defense and the third jointly by Germany and Israel. The website also claims that German and Israeli firms cooperated in the construction of the boats and blithely mentions that these specific boats also could also be used for launching nuclear weapons. Taken together with the defense-ministry’s response quoted above this would mean that the German government knew about the plans Israel had with the subs, should it turn out that there really is something to this story. A caveat: The homepage of the site has been hacked (I know this because all you can find there is “hacked…”). I don’t think that the material I quote has been maliciously put up by the hacker in question, military-themed websites get hacked on principle around here, but it’s one more reason to be skeptical.

8 thoughts on “Israeli submarines with nuclear missiles?”

  1. Harpoons can’t be modified for the purpose of delivering nuclear weapons without substantially degrading performance. TLAMs won’t fit on the diesel submarines, either.

  2. I hope it is true. Mutually assured destruction is a powerful deterrant. Nuclear subs is about the most cost effective means to obtain it. I believe our nuclear fleet is what has prevented WW3 to this point. Good for them.

  3. Tests were reported long ago:

    It’s said that Isreali submarines were paid by Germans because the Scud’s that fell in Israel in 1991 were full of German components.

    The augmented torpedo tubes: it was said that was for SDV-submerged diver veichles for special operations which is perfectly reasonable, but also can be for missiles like thomahawks.

    Neverthless even the landbased Jerichos Ballistic missiles have a great probabilty to work even if israeli territory is targeted.

  4. Howard Sachar’s book on Europe/Israel relations as the full story on the Dolphin deal. The financing terms were indeed changed midway as reparations for German assistance in Iraq’s chemical weapons and missile programs.

  5. Giving Israel any submarines regardless of type is irresponsible.

    Given Jewish influence both Gov’t and commercial in the ” west ” arming Israel will only confirm the rumours and allegations re Jewish influence and it will be difficult to refute such rumour as ” conspiracy theory.

    They are too irresponsible in political temporament to possess submarines which are ocean going attack weapons.

    Who of Israel’s enemies will forse Israel to need these weapons


  6. gavin,

    Israel has already had submarines for decades without using them for aggressive purposes, so what are you worried about? The big threat in the region comes from countries like Iran and Syria. Israel’s submarines, by providing a deterrent against such countries, promote regional stability.

  7. Israel has been working on micro nukes for some time (witness suitcase & landmine nukes) and could, without much problem, adapt them to fit Harpoons. They also have the established, nuclear capable Popeye Turbo cruise missle for delivery as well.

Comments are closed.