Israel denies talks on German submarine purchase

23rd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Israel's defence ministry said on Friday it was not looking to buy a sixth submarine from Germany at this time, after a German media report that Berlin had rejected an Israeli request for a subsidy.

"Following press reports, we wish to clarify that there are no negotiations with Germany for the purchase by Israel of an additional submarine," the ministry said in a statement.

"The question of a discount (by Germany) for such an acquisition is therefore not relevant," the statement added, referring to an article Friday in Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The report said that Chancellor Angela Merkel had made known that Berlin would not reduce the price of a sixth German-made Dolphin-class submarine for Israel because of budget constraints.

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said there were "no concrete negotiations between Israel and Germany about a sixth submarine" and he could not comment on possible "informal talks" on the subject.

He confirmed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Merkel had spoken by telephone this week in a conversation focused on efforts toward Middle East peace but said he could not comment on whether the submarine was mentioned.

Israel's navy has three Dolphin-class submarines, two of which were bought after the 1991 Gulf War.

Israel has two other Dolphin submarines on order, being built at the Kiel shipyard in northern Germany and due for delivery in 2012.

Media reports have said the submarines can carry nuclear warheads and have an operating range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles).

© 2010 AFP

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