JERUSALEM - With the purchase of two more German-made Dolphin
submarines capable of carrying nuclear warheads, military experts say Israel is sending a clear message to Iran
that it can strike back if attacked by nuclear weapons. The purchases come at a time when Iran is refusing to bow to growing Western demands to halt its nuclear
program, and after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
The new submarines, built at a cost of $1.3 billion with Germany
footing one-third of the bill, have diesel-electric propulsion systems that allow them to remain submerged for longer periods
of time than the three nuclear arms-capable submarines already in Israel's
fleet, the Jerusalem Post reported. The latest submarines not only would be able
to carry out a first strike should Israel
choose to do so, but they also would provide Israel
with crucial second-strike capabilities, said Paul Beaver, a London-based independent defense analyst. Israel is already
believed to have that ability in the form of the Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which are buried
so far underground they would survive a nuclear strike, he said. "The Iranians
would be very foolish if they attacked Israel,"
German officials have said the contract for the new submarines was signed July 6, and
the Jerusalem Post reported this week the subs will be operational shortly. Israel,
operating on a policy of nuclear ambiguity, has never confirmed or denied whether it has nuclear weapons. It is believed,
however, to have the world's sixth-largest stockpile of atomic arms, including hundreds of warheads.
so far has resisted calls by the U.N. Security Council to halt uranium enrichment, which can produce, among other things,
the material for atomic bombs. The council set an Aug. 31 deadline that is accompanied by the threat of sanctions.
The dispute over Tehran's
nuclear program revolves around Iran's
insistence it wants to master the technology simply to generate electricity. Critics say Iran
wants to make nuclear weapons.
The Dolphin submarine could be one of the best deterrents, Beaver said. The technology
on the subs makes them undetectable and gives them defensive capabilities in the case of attack, he said. "They are very well-built, very well-prepared, lots of interesting equipment, one of the best conventional
submarines available," Beaver said. "We are talking about a third string of deterrence capabilities."Michael Karpin, an expert
on Israel's atomic weapons capabilities who published a book on the issue in the United States, said nuclear-armed submarines
provide better second-strike capabilities than missiles launched from airplanes. "Planes
are vulnerable, unlike nuclear (armed) submarines that can operate for an almost unlimited amount of time without being struck,"
Karpin said. "Second-strike capabilities are a crucial element in any nuclear conflict."
members of two opposition parties criticized the deal. Winfried Nachtwei, national security spokesman for the Greens, said
the decision was wrong because Germany
had obtained no guarantee the submarines would not be used to carry nuclear weapons.
"This red line should not be crossed," Nachtwei was quoted as saying by the newspaper Taz. "Otherwise it is a complete
renunciation of Germany's policy of
non-proliferation." David Menashri, an Israeli expert on Iran,
said Tehran is clearly determined to obtain nuclear
weapons and "the purchase of additional Dolphin submarines by Israel
is a small footnote in this context."
What also makes Tehran
dangerous, Beaver said, is that it may not understand the consequences of carrying out a nuclear strike. "They (Iran)
have a belligerent leadership and that's why Israel
is prudent in ensuring that it has that deterrent capability," Beaver said. "What they (the submarines) are is a very good
Notice the anti-Arab slant. Given the murderous bombing of Lebanon and Israel’s long history of aggression, always treated as
a response in the U.S. press to Arab aggression, I can only conclude that when it comes to the death count, Israel is the
aggressor, and that nuclear weapons are more likely to be used first by them.--jk