* Germany to deliver 6th Dolphin submarine to Israel
* Berlin warns Israel would be detrimental to attack Iran
* German budget dedicates 135 mln euros to Israeli defence
(Adds background, details)
BERLIN, March 20 Germany said on Tuesday it will
sell Israel a sixth military submarine and shoulder part of the
cost, although it warned its ally that any military escalation
with Iran could bring incalculable risks.
German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said he shared
Israel's fear of a nuclear-armed Iran and he was convinced
Tehran aimed to make nuclear weapons, but he called for caution.
"I recommend all sides show urgent restraint, both in their
rhetoric and their action. A military escalation would bring
incalculable risks for Israel and the region, to the detriment
of Israel," he told reporters at a press conference in Berlin
with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak.
Barak by contrast said all options regarding Iran should
remain on the table, apart from containment. "To accept a
nuclear Iran would be inconceivable and unacceptable to the
whole world," he said.
Germany, which after the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust is
absolutely committed to Israel's security, has championed
international diplomatic campaigns to rein in Tehran. But Berlin
has also criticised Israel's settlement-building programme.
"Israel can be sure of German solidarity in questions of
its sovereign integrity and its existence ... but it is
important that Israel and its partners make moves towards a
solution of the Middle East conflict," de Maiziere said.
Israel operates three German-built Dolphin submarines,
manufactured by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), a unit of
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, and expects delivery of
two more shortly. The vessels are considered a vanguard against
foes like Iran.
Israel is threatening to take military action, with or
without U.S. support, if Iran is deemed to be continuing to defy
pressure to curb its nuclear projects. Iran insists its nuclear
energy programme is purely non-military.
The Dolphins are small, diesel-powered submarines, designed
for coastal patrols and equipped with 10 torpedo tubes.
Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only
nuclear weapons, which it neither confirms nor denies. These
could be onboard the Dolphins.
Israel's purchase of a sixth submarine had been widely
expected, although discussions over the degree of Germany's
contribution drew out the process.
"A further boat will be delivered to Israel and there will
be financial help. It is part of the budget and is therefore a
public action," de Maiziere said.
Germany's state budget for 2012 foresees spending of 135
million euros for "defence systems for Israel", 70 million euros
of which will fall this year.
Germany delivered the first three submarines between
1999-2000, two of which it paid for outright. In 2005 Germany
struck a deal with Israel on another two submarines, this time
paying a contribution of 333 million euros for both, amounting
to about a third of the cost.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Susan Fenton)