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Israel to station 3 nuclear subs in Persian Gulf

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Israelís long-range Dolphin-class submarines

JERUSALEM (PTI): Israel is to deploy three submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf, amid fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran could be used to hit strategic sites in the Jewish state, a media report said.

The Sunday Times was quoted by local media as saying that one of the submarines has been sent over Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, and in the possession of Syria and Hezbollah, could be used to hit strategic sites in the Jewish state, including air bases and missile launchers.

Dolphin, Tekuma, and Leviathan, all submarines of the 7th navy Flotilla, have been reported to be frequenting the Gulf in the past. However, according to the Sunday Times report, this new deployment is meant to ensure a permanent naval presence near the Iranian coastline.

A flotilla officer told the British newspaper that the deployed submarines were meant to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents in the region.

"We're a solid base for collecting sensitive information, as we can stay for a long time in one place," the officer said.

The flotilla's commander, identified only as Colonel O, was quoted by the paper as saying that the submarine force was "an underwater assault force".

We're operating deep and far, very far, from our borders," he reportedly said.

The submarines could be used if Iran continues with its nuclear programme to produce a bomb.

"The 1,500 km range of the submarines, cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran," a navy officer told The Times.

Iranian officials reportedly reacted strongly vowing to retaliate.

"Anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us," an Iranian Admiral told the newspaper.

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