Former U.S. military and State Department officials said Israel was arming three diesel submarines with newly designed cruise missiles that could carry nuclear warheads, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The development would give Israel a sea-based alternative to land- or air-based nuclear weapons. Israel has refused to say if it has nuclear weapons but U.S. analysts suggest it has a small atomic arsenal.
Israeli testing of the new cruise missile two years ago in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka was monitored by the U.S. Navy, according to former Pentagon officials.
Although U.S. analysts studied the nuclear capability of the missile, it was "above top secret whether the sub-launched missiles are nuclear-armed," one former senior American official was quoted as saying.
A sea-based option would allow Israel to offset efforts by Iraq and Iran to develop missiles capable of knocking out Israel's weapons, the American daily added.
The newspaper report followed publication of a book this week by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that said Israel attempted to arm its diesel submarines with nuclear cruise missiles. The book said Israel tested its sea-launched cruise missiles, with a range of 900 miles, in May 2000.
"Probably the most important nuclear-related development in Israel is the formation of its sea-based nuclear arm," wrote Joseph Cirincione, co-author of the book and an endowment official. (Albawaba.com)
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