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Germany confirms sale of two submarines to Israel

AFP | August 25 2006

The German defence ministry on Friday confirmed reports that two German submarines have been sold to Israel, but said the vessels are not equipped to carry nuclear weapons.

A spokesman for the ministry said the sale agreement between Israel and the manufacturer, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG, was concluded on July 6.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Israel has bought two Dolphin-class submarines, called U212s, which will be assembled in Germany.

The newspaper said they will be fitted with a propulsion system allowing them to remain underwater for far longer than submarines already in use by the Israeli navy.

It already has three German submarines -- the most expensive weapon platforms in Israel's arsenal.

Germany, which believes it has a historic responsibility to help Israel because of the mass murder of Jews in World War II, donated the first two submarines after the 1991 Gulf War.

It split the cost of the third with the Jewish state.

The German economy ministry said that it has so far not received an application for authorisation to deliver the new submarines to Israel.

According to Jane's Defence Weekly, the U212s are designed for a crew of 35, have a range of 4,500 kilometres (2,810 miles) and can launch cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

Reports of the sale of the submarines have sparked controversy in Germany because of Israel's military offensive on Lebanon.

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