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London's Sunday Times: All the Nukes Unfit to Print?


31 May 2010 05:1520 Comments
01_SUBS5.jpgMay 30: The London Sunday Times is reporting that Israel is stationing three submarines equipped with cruise missiles off the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf. "Some of the cruise missiles are equipped with the most advanced nuclear warheads in the Israeli arsenal."

According to Uzi Mahnaimi, who authored the Times report, each of the three German-built Israeli submarines--named Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan--has a crew of 35 to 50, and "is commanded by a colonel capable of launching a nuclear cruise missile." At least one of the submarines will reportedly remain in the Gulf as a "permanent presence.' The submarines are said to be capable of remaining at sea for about 50 days and submerging up to 1,150 ft below the surface for at least a week.

An unidentified officer of Flotilla 7, to which the submarines belong, asserts that the deployment is designed "to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents." The Flotilla's commander, "Colonel O," is quoted as telling an unidentified Israeli newspaper: "We are an underwater assault force. We're operating deep and far, very far, from our borders."

"As usual, Mahnaimi quotes anonymous sources," observes Middle East analyst Ami Isseroff, Director of MidEastWeb for Coexistence. "He does mention an interview with Colonel O. in an Israeli newspaper, but does not name the newspaper for some reason, so we have no idea in what context O's remarks were made."

Mahnaimi has a long and consistent record -- for being wrong (at least thus far). Several previous Sunday Times pieces written or co-authored by Mahnaimi have hyped the threat of an imminent attack on Iran by Israel. On July 13, 2008, the headline above Mahnaimi's byline blared, "President George W. Bush backs Israeli Plan for Attack on Iran." Mahnaimi claimed that then-Senator Barack Obama's "apparent doubts about the urgency of the Iranian threat," had "intensified pressure on the Israeli hawks to act before November's US presidential election." At that point in time, Obama was still a long shot for the Democratic nomination. Nevertheless, Mahnaimi found an anonymous Pentagon official willing to opine, "If I were an Israeli I wouldn't wait."

On January 7, 2007, Mahnaimi claimed that Israel had drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons, if a conventional attack was ruled out and the US declined to intervene in halting Iran's nuclear progress. According to Mahnaimi, "several military sources" had informed him that Israelis would soon strike Arak, Isfahan and Nantaz." Conventional laser-guided bombs would open "tunnels" into the targets, into which "mini-nukes" would immediately be fired. This, according to Mahnaimi's informants, would reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

On March 13, 2005, Mahnaimi reported that the inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister at the time, had given initial authorization for an attack on Iran during a meeting at Sharon's desert ranch. According to Mahnaimi, "Israeli forces have used a mock-up of Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to practise destroying it. Their tactics include raids by Israel's elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and air strikes by F-15 jets from 69 Squadron, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities." Nine months later, on Dec. 11, 2005, Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter claimed that the order to prepare for a possible attack on Iran had gone through the Israeli defense ministry to the chief of staff, with "sources inside special forces command" confirming that they had been at the highest stage of readiness for the operation for a week.

While Mahnaimi's latest Times report is receiving some coverage in the Israeli press, Mahnaimi's latest "revelations" seem to be taking a back seat to the ongoing coverage of the Israeli Defense Forces efforts to block the Gaza flotilla. From an Iranian perspective, Press TV is reporting that Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told the Mehr News Agency, "If the report on the entrance of Israeli nuclear submarines is true, this will be a threat to the Persian Gulf region's security." The Tehran Times also summarized Mahnaimi's report.

As of this writing, Mahnaimi's lack of credibility has yet to be pointed out in any Israeli or Iranian online news sources.

Mahnaimi's career as a sensationalist was launched on Nov. 15, 1998, when the Times published a claim by Mahnaimi and co-author Marie Colvin that Israel had developed an "ethnic bomb" -- a bacteriological warfare agent that would only target Arabs. "Not only did this story have no basis in fact, it was also a scientific impossibility that should not have been believed by anyone who had taken an introductory course in human genetics," Isseroff pointed out in a scathing critique of one of Mahnaimi's more recent pieces predicting an imminent Israel attack on Iran: "...this absurd lie was parroted in respectable newspapers and is still cited by Web sites like 'Global Research' and 'anti-Zionist sites like Radio Islam." Isseroff notes that Mahnaimi has also been predicting the impending outbreak of war between Israel and Syria for the past decade.

UPDATE: The Sunday Times has removed any and all traces of this story from its searchable archive. A search for articles by Mahnaimi, sorted by date with the newest listed first, lists a story published in April at the top. Searches for "Iran" and for "Israeli submarines" also make no reference to Mahnaimi's most recent "scoop."

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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Those who take seriously stories planted in Murdoch-owned media outlets (Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, FoxNews, Sky Television, New York Post, The Sun,...) ought to donate their brains to medical research.

Ali from Tehran / May 31, 2010 7:10 AM

Good background on this piece of hype, Marsha.

A commenter on a military forum points out the following:

Technically, its feasible that Israel might position one Dolphin class SSK submarine in the Perisan Gulf; they have three to keep one on station at all times. (No navy in the world can maintain 100% strength in a given area over a long period of time.) Also, the Egyptians would have to allow this force through the Suez Canal, otherwise it's a grueling roundtrip across the Cape. And, the Israeli Navy doesn't appear to possess anything close to an adequate seagoing submarine tender.

So, yes, this is Debka-esque nonsense.

Pirouz / May 31, 2010 1:56 PM

Dear Marsha,

Just read your latest article, "Blinded in Gaza," at Lobelog.com.

You are a brave woman.

Hope you will contribute pieces more often to TehranBureau.

Ali from Tehran / June 1, 2010 12:53 PM

Israel is trying her chance at psychological warfare as much as in pure military preparation, sabotage, espionage ...etc, yet as witnessed in recent years, none of these policies have deterred iran from pursuing its agenda, and rightly so.

Dont forget, Israelis is an overconfident bunch yet they are scared too. They do not see themselves to believe that their time of being the sole militarily nuclear power of the region is over. Israeli has always been scared of another SHOA , an eternal existential fear.

Israel had all the time in the world to reach a tenable peace treaty with the conflicting parties , yet it refrained, partly due to false confidence in its military superiority and n the other hand in the absolute support that she got from the U.S and some other European countries.

Now that the table seem to be turning against her, she might do something that she always has done. A stupid, hair brained move is all what it takes to make things catastrophically bad for everybody. I dread that moment but seeing who BiBI is and its maverick cabinet are, that sad option might indeed come be a real event.

The Question here is not what Israel would do as much as what Iran would do in response to a nuclear attack. Would Iran drizzle down some hundred kilos of low enriched uranium over Israeli cities, which would possible make the affected areas non-habitable for decades to come or would Iran send troops there.

Neither of these ideas are promising and hardly any solution . Israel and Iran can be friends or at least tolerate each other as regional powers.

PersianTraveler / June 1, 2010 3:35 PM

There is no need for Israel to station subs in the Arabian gulf. The difference in the time it would take it's land based nuclear missles to reach Iran is basically the same as it would take a subs missles launched from the Arabian gulf.
As far as a deterrent to Irans' navy...They pose no threat to Israel whatsoever. Iran makes constant threats to close the Arabian gulf, but all are pure non-sense.

muhammad billy bob / June 2, 2010 10:28 PM

For a submarine with a nuclear reactor sailing around Africa and positioning in the Arabian gulf for 6 or more months is nothing but routine. Nuclear power submarines from many countries routinely spend 6-9 months submerged and on station.

muhammad billy bob / June 2, 2010 10:34 PM

What people in the world seem to forget is that israel had lost 9 million of its people in the 2nd
world war.
They will never let this happen again.
No country will ever have this power over their country again.
Do Not Provoke the Israel nation, for any country that does so will face elimation from the face of the earth.
ex. Hiroshima and

Nagasaki ---- Leave them alone.----

edward martin / June 3, 2010 12:43 AM

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ZIOCANE, even though jointly approved by the US Congress, AIPAC and the FDA, is a dangerously addictive hallucinogenic.

Frequent use causes CHRONIC ACUTE ZIONISM, an irreversible psychosis where the perpetrator deems himself the eternal victim.

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Ali from Tehran / June 3, 2010 3:56 AM

It was about 6 millions Jews that killed during world war II, not 9 millions. I think Israel has the right to defense itself with all the hostile neighbors surround them.

Richard / June 3, 2010 6:21 AM

Please refrain from using the politically devisive name for the Persian Gulf. There is no basis for this misrepresentation and certainly this forum should not be used as a forum for the hate mongers.

Patriot / June 3, 2010 10:12 PM

It is only a matter of time till Israel completely freaks-out about something and nukes someone, somewhere.
All of the arguments against Iran getting a bomb also apply to Israel. Theocracies should not be allowed to have armies - let alone nukes. They all see the world thru the prism of their respective religion - and that right there should scare any rational person.

Michael / June 3, 2010 11:44 PM


I am generally against war, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened if someone dropped a few napalms in the middle of last summer's infamous Friday prayer. ( That was the key event when Khamanai adressed Ahmadinejad, Mesbah and the rest of his goons and gave the official order to slaughter protesters.) They were all there. The worst of the worst. Thousands of Mullahs, bassijis and IRCG generals. Now THAT was a missed opportunity.

If israel ever "freaks-out" and decides to "nukes someone", I hope they dont forget to add IRCG and Bassij HQs, and while we are daydreaming why not the entire city of Ghom.

Ahvaz / June 5, 2010 8:07 AM

despite the contentious nature of the submarine capability of Israel, the fact is that they DO possess NUKES. Iran naturally desires a balance as they are at a geopolitcal disadvantage.

Forjustice / June 5, 2010 8:21 PM

Is Marsha Cohen the infamous Judith Miller's pseudonym? Same rubbish.

greystone / June 6, 2010 4:16 AM

WITH SINCERE THANKS for reportage from Ms. COHEN = "BETTER THEM (Israel) THAN US"!

REMINDER = At outset of this latst Med Crisis - The Israeli Prime Minsiter "disappeared" for a few days, later to surface in Moscow at a Foreign Ministry 'Press Conference' - at which the Russian spokeman announced a commitment had been extracted from "Bibi" that it WOULD NOT USE A FIRST STRIKE!

Heretofore - before this "admitted diplomatic break-through" - it had been, and still may be, ISRAELI POLICY: "It shall not be the second to use special weapons if attacked by its enemies - but then it WOULD NOT BE THE FIRST, EITHER"!

That announced p0olicy, followed so far - IS INTENDED TO "successfully 'complicate' the military calculus" of any potential attacker!

THAT HAD "arguably - WORKED, so far!

AND THE RUSSIANS HAVE AN ADMIRABLE RECORD FOR 'BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION' - of HAMAS - in these fragile and even volatile days at The Med! -30-

DAVE PHILLIPS; USAF RESERVES ['retired'] in Parowan, UT [U.S.A.] / June 6, 2010 8:11 PM

What is in a name? "A rose by any other would smell as sweet".
You say Persian gulf, I say Arabian gulf....
Just silly to be upset of such a thing. Reminds me of all the people upset of cartoons of a dark ages warlord who they see as a prophet of a god.

It's just silly.

muhammad billy bob / June 8, 2010 12:14 AM

Let's face the true reality shall we?

Israel is nothing but a canard for the regimes of Iran and other middle eastern nations. The true facts are that Arabs and muslims have killed many more Palestians than Israel would ever think of. Jordanians brutally suppressed Palestinians in the 70's, etc., etc.

Why is the Iranian government so upset about Israel's existence? Perhaps it's because Israel will not except the religion of Islam. Perhaps it's because Israel will not allow them to bully them as they do their other neighbors.

muhammad biily bob / June 8, 2010 12:36 AM

Billy Bob,

Israel is a canard, a deliberately misleading story, but for a different reason than you mentioned. Iran is a canard for Israel too. They feed each other for internal as well as extenal consumption. Iranians as a whole are not religious. They are forced into it at the point of a gun. You need to understand Iran a lot better before you can comment on it. Most Iranians don't give a hoot about Palestinians either. What is important for us is the future of our country minus the Barbaric Republic.
Also, keep saying Arabian Gulf. Who cares about Billy Bob. To the most of the educated world it has been, is and will be the PERSIAN GULF forever. We are not upset. We just don't care about you.

Niloofar / June 8, 2010 11:08 PM

Niloofar, You obviously don't understand Iran very well yourself.
To say that Iranians as a whole are not religious is just disingenious. There may be a sizeable minority that are not religious, but if Iranians as a whole were not religious they would not allow themselves to be governed by religious leaders. They would not participate in a criminal justice system where laws are taken directly from a religious text. I agree with you that muslim leaders around the world as well as in Iran try to intimidate others to submit to their will. But the leaders themselves can not control millions of people. They need a majority to control the minority. They believers to carry out their wishes. And in Iran the have alot people ready and willing.

muhammad billy bob / June 9, 2010 1:43 AM

What different reason would Iran's religious/political leaders(same people) use Israel as a canard? They use Israel to whip up support from those who already support them. i.e. the majority.

Iran's political/military/religious leaders(again, the same people)constantly threaten Israel with a first strike. Israel has never done any such thing. Israels' only concern is to prevent Iran from attacking them.
It is very unrealistic that Iran would attempt an attack, knowing what would occur if they did. But when one deals with religious/military/political leaders all wraped up into one, one does not know what they're capable of. And as Iran's military has proven, against their own people, they will carry out any order given by their leadership.

muhammad billy bob / June 9, 2010 2:07 AM