Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Israeli PM Warns About Nuclear I.R. Iran on Navy Tour

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The Associated Press

Israel's prime minister warned about the dangers of a nuclear Iran Tuesday after touring a submarine believed capable of firing nuclear-tipped missiles. In a visit rife with symbolism, Benjamin Netanyahu also took a ride on an Israeli missile ship that led the seizure this month of an arms vessel Israel says was loaded with Iranian weapons bound for the militant Lebanese Hezbollah group. Hezbollah denied the allegations. "The threat that Iran poses is very grave for the state of Israel, for peace in the Middle East and the whole world," Netanyahu said aboard the ship INS Eilat. "Without any doubt, we are the first target, but not the last." Iran denies its nuclear program is designed to build bombs, but Israel and the West suspect that it is. Israeli leaders fear their country could be a target for an Iranian nuclear weapon and have not ruled out a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly has made references to Israel's destruction. The submarine that Netanyahu visited was one of three Dolphin-class vessels built in Germany that foreign media reports have said can carry missiles with nuclear warheads. Israel has ordered two more such subs. Israel has never confirmed its submarines have nuclear capabilities, just as it never has confirmed media reports that it possesses a stockpile of nuclear bombs. After complimenting the sailors, Netanyahu got off the INS Eilat and stepped onto a dinghy to visit the elite navy base whose commandos captured the Francop arms vessel off the Cyprus coast earlier this month. The waters were choppy and Netanyahu briefly wobbled, a pained look crossing his face. Aides rushed to help and a bodyguard placed his arms around the Israeli leader to help keep him steady.