y RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, Associated Press Writer 
54 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - With the purchase of two more German-made Dolphin 
submarines capable of carrying nuclear warheads, military experts 
say        Israel is sending a clear message to        Iran that it 
can strike back if attacked by nuclear weapons. 

The purchases come at a time when Iran is refusing to bow to growing 
Western demands to halt its nuclear program, and after Iranian 
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off 
the map."

The new submarines, built at a cost of $1.3 billion with Germany 
footing one-third of the bill, have propulsion systems that allow 
them to remain submerged for longer periods of time than the three 
nuclear-capable submarines already in Israel's fleet, the Jerusalem 
Post reported.

The latest submarines not only would be able to carry out a first 
strike should Israel choose to do so, but they also would provide 
Israel with crucial second-strike capabilities, said Paul Beaver, a 
London-based independent defense analyst.

Israel is already believed to have that ability in the form of the 
Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which 
are buried so far underground they would survive a nuclear strike, 
he said.

"The Iranians would be very foolish if they attacked Israel," Beaver 

German officials have said the contract for the new submarines was 
signed on July 6, and the Jerusalem Post reported this week the subs 
will be operational shortly.

Israel, operating on a policy of nuclear ambiguity, has never 
confirmed or denied whether it has nuclear weapons. It is believed, 
however, to have the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear 
weapons, including hundreds of warheads.

Iran so far has resisted calls by the        U.N. Security Council 
to halt uranium enrichment, despite an Aug. 31 deadline that is 
accompanied by the threat of sanctions.

The dispute over Tehran's nuclear program revolves around Iran's 
insistence that it wants to master the technology simply to generate 
electricity. Critics say Iran wants to make nuclear weapons.

The Dolphin submarine could be one of the best deterrents, Beaver 
said. The technology on the submarines makes them undetectable and 
gives them defensive capabilities in the case of attack, he said.

"They are very well-built, very well-prepared, lots of interesting 
equipment, one of the best conventional submarines available," 
Beaver said. "We are talking about a third string of deterrence 

Michael Karpin, an expert on Israel's nuclear capabilities who 
published a book on the issue in the United States, said nuclear 
submarines provide better second-strike capabilities than missiles 
launched from airplanes.

"Planes are vulnerable, unlike nuclear submarines that can operate 
for an almost unlimited amount of time without being struck," Karpin 
said. "Second-strike capabilities are a crucial element in any 
nuclear conflict."

In Germany, members of two opposition parties criticized the deal. 
Winfried Nachtwei, national security spokesman for the Greens, said 
the decision was wrong because Germany had obtained no guarantee the 
submarines would not be used to carry nuclear weapons.

"This red line should not be crossed," Nachtwei was quoted as saying 
by the taz newspaper. "Otherwise it is a complete renunciation of 
Germany's policy of non-proliferation."

David Menashri, an Israeli expert on Iran, said Tehran is clearly 
determined to obtain nuclear power and "the purchase of additional 
Dolphin submarines by Israel is a small footnote in this context."

What also makes Tehran dangerous, Beaver said, is that it may not 
understand the consequences of carrying out a nuclear strike. 

"They (Iran) have a belligerent leadership and that's why Israel is 
prudent in ensuring that it has that deterrent capability," Beaver 
said. "What they (the submarines) are is a very good insurance 

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