Rumors of German-Israeli nuclear missile deal pique debate on 'special relationship'

“Special Relationship” is a term used to describe the relations between Great Britain and the US, but if ever there were two countries linked by historical events of unparalleled magnitude, it is Germany and Israel. The Holocaust has defined the relationship between the country of the perpetrators and the country of the victims, so much so that German Chancellor Angela Merkel frequently calls the security of the Jewish state Germany’s responsibility, its “raison d’etre” even.

But not all Germans agree, and the decisions Mrs. Merkel makes based on that “special relationship” stir growing unease among many Germans.

This week Der Spiegel magazine ran a cover story about German submarines being sold to Israel. The article quotes several former members of the German defense ministry alleging that Israel is arming these submarines, delivered at very generous terms, with nuclear cruise missiles and that the German government has been aware of this modification for quite some time.

Neither German nor Israeli officials have commented on the story, but experts see it as an open secret. The fact that Berlin is not even denying it has led the political opposition and commentators to re-open the debate on the character of German-Israeli relations

Polls in Germany show a sizable shift, during the past few years, in attitudes towards Israel. But does German criticism of Israel = anti-Semitism?

Here is a link to the *Der Spiegel *cover story

Operation Samson: Israel’s Deployment of Nuclear Missiles on Subs from Germany

Deep in their interiors, on decks 2 and 3, the submarines contain a secret that even in Israel is only known to a few insiders: nuclear warheads, small enough to be mounted on a cruise missile, but explosive enough to execute a nuclear strike that would cause devastating results. This secret is considered one of the best kept in modern military history. Anyone who speaks openly about it in Israel runs the risk of being sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

Research SPIEGEL has conducted in Germany, Israel and the United States, among current and past government ministers, military officials, defense engineers and intelligence agents, no longer leaves any room for doubt: With the help of German maritime technology, Israel has managed to create for itself a floating nuclear weapon arsenal: submarines equipped with nuclear capability.

Foreign journalists have never boarded one of the combat vessels before. In an unaccustomed display of openness, senior politicians and military officials with the Jewish state were, however, now willing to talk about the importance of German-Israeli military cooperation and Germany’s role, albeit usually under the condition of anonymity. “In the end, it’s very simple,” says Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “Germany is helping to defend Israel’s security. The Germans can be proud of the fact that they have secured the existence of the State of Israel for many years to come.”

I dunno… I think the nuclear capability of these subs rumored for some time.

I remember reading about the submarine sales a few years back, and historically there have been other military technology “transfers” from Germany (and plenty of other western nations) to Israel. I suspect that the German government indeed tacitly approves of arming these subs with nuclear missiles because it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t have seen it coming. Since the beginning, the Israelis have taken other countries’ hardware and retrofitted it to suit their specific needs, and for decades international security analysts have estimated Israel’s nuclear arsenal to include at least 200 warheads.

As for the German’s responsibility for the security Israel, I don’t know about that. I looked at these sub sales as more of a business deal than anything else. The US has traditionally been Israel’s major security partner, and with relations faltering at times in the past decade, it seems Germany saw an opportunity to make a buck in our place. Although it’s worth mentioning that Germany is probably very uncomfortable with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Most German citizens have moved on from the specter of World War II and no longer seem to feel any reason to consider the ‘German Guilt’ for the Holocaust. It’s not that they’ve forgotten, but that things have changed so much in the past 67 years. There is still some anti-semitism in Germany, as there is in Europe in general, but I think that military isolationism would be a more significant reason for the average person’s reluctance to get involved with Israel’s defense. They tend to lean left in terms of foreign policy.

There have been signs recently that Merkel won’t last much longer. This sub deal probably won’t help her at the polls.

The submarines in question:-

The Germans gave Israel the first two free of charge and only charge half the going rate for the third. Considering the relative size of Israel as a country with six of these submarines they will have a pretty potent submarine force. It’s worth noting the last bit of that article which points out that applicants for the submarine service have to renounce ties to other nations if they have dual nationality.

I definitely don’t know anything at all about German-Israeli relations but I can say that I am opposed to the use of nuclear warfare. Therefore, I sincerely hope that Germany is not selling nuclear missiles to Israel or anybody else.

Germany doesn’t need to sell them nuclear missiles, the Israelis have the ability to make their own and are speculated to have been doing so for well over 40 years now. It wants the submarines as they provide a second strike capablility for it and it avoids basing such weapons land.

It’s Germany that doesn’t have nuclear missiles - it relies upon the US to protect them.

In regards to nuclear missiles perhaps, in other areas not so much as it has a large and competent military of it’s own. I pointed out Germany has no nuclear missiles of it’s own and is not supplying those to the Israelis, who have been making their own domestic nuclear weapons for many years now.

I’m of two minds on the subject. On the one hand, nobody like the ongoing proliferation of nuclear weapons. The fewer countries that have them, the better.

But I suspect Israel is rather a good risk on the subject in comparison to others. What are they going to do, nuke the West Bank? I think not. The reason they have them is because they perceive a real and genuine risk of utter annihilation. They hope those who hate them love their own kids more than they hate Jews (and sometimes I honestly wonder). IF it is a fact that Israel already has nuclear weapons and that fact is not likely to change, I suspect that the world is actually safer if those weapons are aboard submarines that are almost impossible for a second tier nation to locate and destroy. Fixed ground based nukes are always vulnerable to a first strike. Hidden mobile nukes are the reliable ones. The ones that (hopefully) make the bad guys think twice about trying to take out a country’s nuclear deterrent with a surprise first strike.

In this view, sub mounted nukes might be LESS destabilizing than fixed position ones, less likely to provoke a pre-emptive attack from one of Israel’s enemies.

I’m not 100% sure of this argument myself, but it does have merit to it worth considering.

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