SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Thursday, July 4, 2002
A United States Air Force report asserts that Israel is building a nuclear
naval force meant to respond to any nuclear strike by such countries as
Iran or Iraq.
It is the first time a U.S. military institution has stated that Israel
produced a hydrogen bomb. The number of purported Israeli nuclear weapons
cited in the report is double that of previous assessments.
The report, sponsored by the air force's Counterproliferation Center,
asserts that the navy can deploy any of what it asserts is Israel's 400
atomic and hydrogen weapons, Middle East Newsline reported. The center is
located in the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
In a report entitled "The Third Temple's Holy of Holies: Israel's Nuclear
Weapons," U.S. Army Col. Warner Farr said Israel's nuclear arsenal has
grown from an estimated 13 nuclear bombs in 1967 to 400 nuclear and
thermonuclear weapons. Farr said Israel's navy could deploy nuclear weapons
on the fleet of three German-built Dolphin-class diesel submarines.
"Israel will then have a second strike capability with nuclear cruise
missiles, and this capability could well change the nuclear arms race in
the Middle East," the report, which Farr said is based on unclassified
sources, read. "Israeli rhetoric on the new submarines labels them
'national deterrent' assets."
The report said these nuclear missiles could have a range of 350
kilometers. Israel would try to base its nuclear naval force near Oman,
with which Israel has informal relations, the September 1999 report, which
was recently published by the center, said.
"The first basing options for the new second-strike force of nuclear
missile capable submarines include Oman, an Arab nation with unofficial
Israeli relations, located strategically near Iran," the report said.
The U.S. Air Force Counterproliferation Center was established in 1998.
center is meant to help prepare air force commanders counter the threat
from weapons of mass destruction. The report did not deem Israel's
purported nuclear arsenal as a direct threat to the United States.
The report said Israel's Defense Ministry has requested from the government
of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon authorization for a retaliatory nuclear
strike. Israel could also use Jordanian air space for a nuclear strike on
Iran, which the report said could produce a nuclear warhead as early as 2004.