Israel sending nuclear-armed subs to Persian Gulf?
A report says Israel is to deploy three submarines armed with nuclear-equipped cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf. Three German-made submarines from Israel's Flotilla 7 will be sent near Iran's coastline, reports the London Times citing claims in Israeli newspapers. The vessels Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan have previously been sent to the region, but the report claims the Israeli Navy has fresh plans to keep at least one of the submarines in the region on a permanent basis.
A flotilla commander identified as "Colonel O" said: "We are an underwater assault force. We're operating deep and far, very far, from our borders." Another unnamed navy officer said, "The 1,500-kilometer range of the submarines' cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran." (London Times, Press TV, May 30)
The Israeli press is simultaneously reporting claims by a "senior political source in Jerusalem" that Israel has received guarantees from President Barack Obama that the US will maintain and improve Israel's strategic and deterrence capabilities. According to the source, "Obama gave [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu unequivocal guarantees that include a substantial upgrade in Israel-US relations." (Haaretz, YNet, May 30)
This assurance appears to come in response to a declaration by Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) member states proposing a 2012 conference in New York to discuss creation of a Middle East nuclear-free zone. The declaration calls on Israel to submit its nuclear facilities to inspection by the UN. The US sought to avoid this clause, but apparently withdrew objections in order to get the final draft approved. Washington released a statement saying it "deeply regrets" that Israel was singled out in the text. Said Obama: "We strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel's national security." (YNet, YNet, May 29)
Israel is both the only state in the region that is believed to have nuclear weapons and which is not a member of the NPT.
See our last post on global nuclear fear.