Washington - Israel has the capability to deliver nuclear cruise missiles from diesel submarines, the Washington Post reported yesterday, citing former U.S. State Department officials.
The report said Israel had armed its three Dolphin class submarines with cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. The modern Dolphin submarines, with the most sophisticated sailing and combat systems in the world, were built in German shipyards during the late 1990s for the Israel Navy.
The purpose of these submarines, the IDF said at the time they were purchased, was "to enable the Israel Navy to meet all the tasks faced in the Mediterranean in the 21st century."
Pentagon sources told The Washington Post the American navy had monitored cruise missile tests Israel subs carried out two years ago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka.
Israel's decision to enhance its nuclear attack capability with submarine launched missiles derives from mounting concern about the possibility of a non-conventional strike launched by Iran or Iraq, the Washington Post report said. Sea-launched missiles would boost Israel's deterrent capability, making clear to a potential enemy that even if a surprise attack wiped out Israel's land-based nuclear arsenal, it would still have the ability to retaliate with weapons of mass destruction.
The Washington Post report followed disclosures last week in a book published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which refers to Israeli attempts to arm its diesel submarines with nuclear missiles. The book claims that Israel tested the sea-launched cruise missiles in May 2000.
"Probably the most important nuclear-related development in Israel is the formation of its sea-based nuclear arm," wrote Joseph Cirincione, co-author of the book and an endowment official.