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.