Israel, Iran in not-so-secret nuclear arms race

Iran announced June 12 that it plans to build its first nuclear-powered submarine—days before talks with world powers on its nuclear program were set to begin. “Preliminary steps in making an atomic submarine have started and we hope to see the use of…nuclear submarines in the navy in the future,” deputy navy commander Abbas Zamini was quoted as saying by Iran’s Fars News Agency. (Reuters, June 12) Last month, Israel received its fourth German-made submarine—capable of launching nuclear warheads. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the submarine would increase Israel’s capabilities “in the face of the growing regional challenges.” The Dolphin-type military submarine is one of six Israel has ordered from Germany, which subsidizes the sales. (AP, May 3) Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said it has learned that Israel is arming the submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Officials said the German government has known about Israel’s nuclear weapons program for decades, despite official denials, and assumed nuclear arms would be used on the subs. (Der Spiegel, June 3)

The US Congress is meanwhile advancing a nearly $1 billion package for Israel’s anti-missile program. The program includes the high-altitude Arrow 3 being developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing to destroy Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles outside Earth’s atmosphere. (UPI, May 8)

Plans for unprecedented US-Israel missile defense exercises were postponed earlier this year, citing regional instability.

See our last posts on Israel, Iran and the nuclear threat.

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  1. Bibi PR offensive in US elections
    A TV spot starring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning against the US policy on Iran debuted in Florida in September, paid for by advocacy group Secure America Now. Netanyahu appears in the ad saying: “The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to a nuclear bomb. The world tells Israel wait, there’s still time. And I say wait for what? Wait until when?” Set to a suspense thriller soundtrack, a voice-over warns at the end of the clip: “The world needs American strength, not apologies.” The ad does not mention either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney by name. (JTA, Sept. 20)

    On Sept. 27, Netanyahu appeared before the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, where he brandished an image of a bomb with a now-famous “red line” near the fuse, representing Iran’s supposed progress towards building a nuclear weapon. The episode, dubbed the “Bibi Bomb,” quickly became an Internet meme. (Arms Control Wonk, Sept. 19)

    One day earlier, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his own address to the General Assembly. Ironically speaking on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, he protested the “continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation.” (NPR, Sept. 26)

    Bibi has played the Iran card in the US electoral race before in recent days…