Friday, August 25, 2006
Israel has purchased two more Dolphin class submarines which have the capacity to carry nuclear warheads. Israel already has three older nuclear weapons-capable Dolphin submarines but the new Dolphins have propulsion systems that allow them to remain submerged for longer periods of time, according to the Jerusalem Post, making it harder for them to be tracked by satellite. Experts view the purchase as a clear signal to Iran that Israel can retaliate if subjected to a nuclear attack.
“The Iranians would be very foolish if they attacked Israel,” said Paul Beaver, a British based defence analyst, speaking to the Washington Post. According to Beaver, the submarines would provide Israel with both first strike and second strike capability.
Israel already has land-based nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in the form of the Jericho I and II missiles.
German officials confirm that the contracts for the new submarines was signed July 6. The Jerusalem Post reports that they will be operational shortly.
Israel has never confirmed nor denied that it has nuclear weapons but is believed to have the world’s sixth largest stockpile of the devices, with most outside estimates putting their stockpile in the low hundreds. Israel’s possession of nuclear arms has often been a locus of bitter controversy in the Middle East, especially among countries who believe that the world community, and especially the United States, is hypocritical in its tolerance of Israeli nuclear arms while decrying the efforts of other Middle Eastern nations to develop their own nuclear capabilities.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports there is a growing mood among Israel’s defence establishment that the country will have to act independently to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons as the United States is unlikely to do so.
“America is stuck in Iraq and cannot go after Iran militarily right now,” according to an unnamed official quoted by the paper.
A report by the US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee released on Wednesday asserts that if Iran arms itself with nuclear weapons, Israel would be pressed to respond militarily. “A nuclear armed Iran would likely exacerbate regional tensions. Israel would find it hard to live with a nuclear armed Iran and could take military action against Iranian nuclear facilities,” the report states. Iran has continually maintained that it seeks only to develop nuclear technology for the production of electrical power, though this has been disputed by many nations.