TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Israel has taken delivery of two German-made submarines capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads.
"We have received two Dolphin-class submarines built from Germany," Israel and Arab media reported quoting an anonymous Israeli military spokesman.
Called U212s, the submarines were upgraded in Germany by Israeli technicians and engineers in order to enable them to carry nuclear warheads.
Initially in 2006, when the sale was confirmed, the German government said the two vessels were not equipped to carry nuclear weapons.
The submarines were ordered in 2005, and delivery was originally scheduled for 2010.
With the latest delivery, Israel now holds five state-of-the-art U212s, designed for a crew of 35 and capable of launching cruise missiles that carry nuclear warheads to a distance of 2,810 miles.
The submarines are the most expensive weapon platforms in Israel's arsenal.
Since the end of the Second World War and the mass murder of Jews under the Nazi regime, Germany has made it its historic obligation to help Israel.
The first two U212s were donated by Berlin to the government of Israel after the 1991 Gulf War.
It split the cost of the third with the Jewish state, offering it at an almost symbolic price, local media reported.
"The German government decided to deliver Israel … the five vessels and allow its experts to manipulate them in order to provide Tel Aviv with hardware needed to evacuate its entire nuclear weaponry arsenal on an appropriate fleet, while allowing it to be employed in warfare," the Arab monitor reported.
It said the delivery was in violation of German law forbidding the export of military equipment or weapons of non-NATO countries engaged in warfare.
One of the subs delivered by the German government is permanently stationed in the Gulf, and Israeli media have said that the fleet of five vessels could be key in any decision by Israel to launch an attack on Iranian targets from the sea.
An Israeli submarine recently used the Suez Canal for the first time, anchoring in the Red Sea in a journey that would have normally required the Israeli vessel to travel around the coast of Africa.
Escorted in June by Egyptian navy vessels, the move was intended to send a message to Iran.
The delivery of the submarines follows Tehran's missile tests earlier this week.
Israel suspects Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the pretext of its civilian nuclear program. Tehran has repeatedly denied the charges, saying it is acting well within its rights.