June 5, 2012
June 5, 2012
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that German-supplied submarines were “very important” for his country’s defense, after a media report said that Israel was fitting the vessels with nuclear warheads.
“Germany has underlined its commitment to Israel’s security in particular with the sale of another submarine,” Netanyahu told the daily Bild. “It is a very important addition to our national security.”
“Delivery of those submarines was definitely without armament, and the German government is not involved with any sort of speculation about any sort of weaponry equipment in the later stage,” Seibert said.
However, former high-ranking officials of the German defense ministry told the German magazine Der Spiegel Monday that the government always assumed Israel was putting nuclear warheads on the Dolphin-class vessels.
The magazine also said that Israel was arming submarines provided and largely financed by Germany with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with the knowledge of the German government.
Germany has already supplied Israel with three Dolphin-class submarines in question and another three are to be delivered by 2017.
Israel is the Middle East’s sole, though undeclared, nuclear-armed power.
The report said Germany hoped to see Israeli concessions on settlements on Palestinian land and approval for the completion of a sewage treatment plant in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the assistance.
It prompted calls by the opposition for an explanation from Merkel’s government and accusations that it had little to show for its help to Israel.
Seibert added that he would not “speculate” over Israel’s nuclear arsenal, but indicated that Germany had not stipulated what Israel could do with its submarines once it took delivery.
“I cannot confirm there are any such clauses,” he said.
Der Spiegel’s article, based on a months-long probe, cited files from the foreign ministry in Berlin indicating the West German state was aware of the practice as early as 1961.
Source: Alarabiya with agencies