by Uzi Mahnaimi
in Tel Aviv
May 30, 2010
Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped
with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian
The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles
developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a political and military
organization in Lebanon, could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and
The submarines of Flotilla 7 - Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan - have visited
the Gulf before. But the decision has now been taken to ensure a permanent
presence of at least one of the vessels.
The flotilla’s commander, identified only as “Colonel O”, told an Israeli
“We are an underwater assault force. We’re
operating deep and far, very far, from our borders.”
Each of the submarines has a crew of 35 to 50,
commanded by a colonel capable of launching a nuclear cruise missile.
The vessels can remain at sea for about 50 days and stay submerged up to
1,150ft below the surface for at least a week. Some of the cruise missiles
are equipped with the most advanced nuclear warheads in the Israeli arsenal.
The deployment is designed to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and
potentially to land Mossad agents.
“We’re a solid base for collecting sensitive
information, as we can stay for a long time in one place,” said a
The submarines could be used if Iran continues
its program to produce a nuclear bomb.
“The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise
missiles can reach any target in Iran,” said a navy officer.
Apparently responding to the Israeli activity,
an Iranian admiral said:
“Anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the
Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us.”
Israel’s urgent need to deter the
Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance was demonstrated last month.
Ehud Barak, the
defense minister, was said to have shown President
Barack Obama classified
satellite images of a convoy of ballistic missiles leaving Syria on the way
to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, will emphasize
the danger to Obama
in Washington this week.
Tel Aviv, Israel’s business and defense centre, remains the most threatened
city in the world, said one expert.
“There are more missiles per square foot
targeting Tel Aviv than any other city,” he said.