A Dolphin submarine.
A Dolphin submarine. A better option for strategic deterrence. Photo by Reuters
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Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his German counterpart Thomas de Maiziére are scheduled to sign a deal in Berlin on Wednesday to supply the Israeli navy with a with a sixth German-made submarine. The German government will pay for a third of the deal, amounting to 135 million euro.

An Israeli official said that the deal has significant strategic significance for Israel's security.

The German parliament approved the agreement a few months ago after three years of negotiations. The parliament approved the deal only after Israel released the Palestinians tax money which it froze after UNESCO admitted the Palestinians as a member state.

According to the Israeli official, Barak will visit Germany on Tuesday and hold a series of meetings with Defense Minister de Maiziére, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's National Security Adviser Christoph Heusgen.

The signing ceremony will be held on Wednesday, attended also by the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben Zeev, who has worked intensely over the past three years to promote the submarine deal. The new ambassador to Germany, veteran diplomat Yaakov Hadas, will also attend the ceremony. Hadas presented his credentials last week.

Israel's submarine fleet, which numbers three German-made Dolphin vessels, is the navy's long-range strategic arm. The German government financed most of the costs of the first three submarines.

According to foreign reports, the submarines are equipped with cruise missiles which have a range of 1,500 kilometers and can carry nuclear warheads. According to those reports, the submarine fleet enables Israel to deliver a "second strike" in the case of a nuclear attack. The fleet also allows Israel to carry out intelligence-gathering missions far from its borders and to defend its territorial waters.

The construction of the fifth and sixths submarines in the German city of Kiel is almost complete, and they are scheduled to be delivered to the Israeli navy in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The two vessels are equipped with state-of-the-art systems that enable them to remain underwater for a longer period of time. A sixth submarine, scheduled to be delivered to Israel at least four years from now, will be even more advanced.