Israel is deploying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on three of its German-built submarines, reports Der Spiegel, a mass-circulation news magazine.
The German government has known about the Israeli nuclear program for decades, despite official denials, according to the magazine.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Spiegel, that Germany should be “proud” that it secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years.”
Three more submarines are being built in the northern German city of Kiel for delivery to Israel in 2017. The submarines are “largely paid for by the German government,” reports the magazine.
The Spiegel report has already sparked debate in Germany, where sentiment against nuclear weapons runs strong. Inge Hoeger, a member of Germany’s Left Party, and frequent critic of Israel, told the Forward in an email that Germany must stop building submarines for Israel and end shipments of arms to the Middle East.
Der Tagespiegel, a respected centrist newspaper, demanded that Chancellor Angela Merkel open the issue up to public debate. “German democracy needs transparency,” the newspaper editorialized. “Germany’s role in the Israeli military’s program must win the approval of this government and the German taxpayer.”
The German public is increasingly skeptical about relations with Israel, with which post-war Germany has had a special relationship.
A recent poll for Stern magazine showed that 36 per cent of Germans view Israel positively, down from 59 per cent in a similar poll done in 2009. Other polls also show the German public’s growing displeasure with Israel.