In Six Million Submarines I described how Israel’s fleet of six diesel submarines armed with nuclear weapons gives Israel a second strike opportunity. Using it, Israel is able to strike with nuclear weapons from submarines at hidden locations at sea, even if its nuclear weapons stored on land are harmed in an enemy strike. “Where exactly are the boats now?” one of the readers asked me. “Where exactly can they strike?” was the question nobody asked. These two questions relate to the core issue of this article: six submarines are enough for setting up a World Wide Web of Nuclear Terror. Welcome to Cold War 2.0.
Zim’s Flag designed by Theodor Herzl, 1896
On the Uses of Route’s Density Maps
Ofer Brothers Headquarters Zim Shipping Owners
What are the factual boundaries of Israel’s nuclear strike capabilities? On October 30, 2011, the British Guardian newspaper reported the results of the independent Trident Commission, which had studied tendencies of nuclear states, including Israel. The report claims Israel is extending its Jericho 3 land-to-land nuclear missiles range, so that they will have the capabilities of transcontinental missiles. Israel will be able to hit even South America with nuclear missiles. However, these missiles can be launched from only two Israeli air force bases, Palmachim near the Mediterranean shore and Wing 2, near Jerusalem. If a war begins, these two would be the most strategic targets in Israel, and are unlikely to survive. Thus, Israel’s nuclear range depends mainly on its submarine fleet. The first three submarines in Israel’s fleet have an unrefuelled range of 8,000 nautical miles traveling on the surface at 8 knots, and over 400 nautical miles at 8 knots fully submerged. They can remain unsupplied for up to 30 days on station, and—obviously—can be served by submarine tender ships that can resupply, rearm, and refuel them at sea. The three last boats have undisclosed range capabilities, but sources in the Israeli Ministry of Defense give them capabilities similar to those of nuclear submarines. Can Israel hit Washington?
The Israeli Ministry of Defense’s secret on the range of the new vessels is silly, unless aimed as a decoy to hide the following conjecture. The secret is silly because the boats can be served by submarine tender ships, and their wider torpedo tubes can be used to deliver swimmer delivery vehicles; the latter would allow delivering attack units on foreign shores. The Israeli Naval Commando (“Shayetet 13,” “Fleet 13”) acquired the military doctrine related to the use of underwater swimmer delivery vehicles from the Italian Naval Commando, which is widely considered among the best in the world on this topic. The Israeli navy is composed of small ships that are used mainly for patrolling and cannot tender submarines. However, Israel being Israel, everything is related to the army, including the Zim Integrated Shipping Services, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, which is owned by the Ofer Brothers. Sammi and Yuli Ofer began their shipping business in Haifa during the British Mandate era and transformed it into an empire. In 2004, they bought Zim and solidified their maritime monopoly within the Israeli market. Zim’s importance is evident just by reading its history. It was founded in 1945, by the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut (General Federation of Laborers in the Land of Israel) and the Israel Maritime League. The first two were the civil organizations that laid the base for the future state. Zim’s flag is based on the one designed by Theodor Herzl in 1896 as the future national emblem of the State of Israel. Herzl’s banner included seven six-pointed golden stars on a white field. No other civil organization in Israel can show such a patriotic pedigree and emblems. In 1953, some of the money from the reparations agreement between Israel and West Germany was allocated to a massive expansion of its fleet (and I thought the damages were intended for the refugees! Silly me…). In 2004 the company was formally privatized; it was bought by the Ofer Brothers Group. This had little meaning; the brothers already had a significant ownership of the company before that. As in other events described in The Cross of Bethlehem, the Israeli government sold the company at a fraction of its price to a single bidder chosen by the government. The state still has a “State Share,” which allows it to intervene in the company’s operation. In other words, Zim is just a front company of the State of Israel.
Kedmah Zim’s First Ship
All these single out Zim as a strategic company. More than that, it is Israel’s lifeline. It brings wheat and oil from the US: Israel doesn’t produce enough food to feed its citizens and has no significant amounts of oil. The list goes on with every strategic product imaginable; secret cargo destined for special industries is Zim’s norm. For example, Dow Chemical’s Syltherm 800—described in The Cross of Bethlehem—for the nuclear plant in Dimona is brought from Senegal by this company. Zim is strategically placed for this role, with a fleet of about a hundred vessels, 13 of them state-of-the-art high-TEU ships. They serve 180 ports of call around the world, with agents in 145 countries. The route’s density map below shows international shipping patterns. Considering Zim is among the world’s giants in the maritime transport industry, it is safe to assume its routes roughly follow this pattern. Israel could use a Zim ship as a submarine tender ship, allowing Dolphin submarines to reach all ocean coasts on the planet. Once there, the submarines could deliver one of their Submarine-launched cruise missiles, SLCMs, or a naval commando team carrying a tactical nuclear weapon.
At this stage, some readers may be preparing an angry response. “Zim’s ships are commercial carriers, they can’t tender a sub! You’re a fool!” In the past I got similar comments on related topics. Americans like to do everything big, expensive, and flimsy. Yet, to tender the sub, one can just drop food, fuel and everything else on its top from the ship’s deck. Soften the fall by using a sturdy rope. Not pretty enough? Do it at night so that nobody sees the ugly, primitive, scene. It works!
International Shipping | Route’s Density Map
Hurry up! Hurry Up! Where can they hit?
Soviet Base at Southern Pole of Inaccessibility
The most potent SLCM that can be launched from the Israeli Dolphin submarines is the Popeye Turbo SLCM, a variant of RAFAEL’s Popeye, an air-to-ground missile. The adapted weapon can allegedly carry a 200kg nuclear warhead. The US Navy recorded an Israeli SLCM test in the Indian Ocean lasting 1,500 kilometers. In other words, Israel can easily hit any target located within that distance from the ocean. That brings us to what is known as “Pole of Inaccessibility” and to human population patterns.
A pole of inaccessibility marks a location that is the most challenging to reach owing to its remoteness from geographical features that could provide access. The term is fit for our use, since we need to find locations that are more than 1,500 kilometers from the ocean. Surprisingly, there are few such locations. I mentioned Urumqi, China, in the first article of this series; a few others can be easily found by the readers. The map below describes worldwide coastal distances with isolines that are 250 km apart. Using such a map, a very accurate map of Israel’s nuclear strike capabilities can be calculated.
Worldwide Coastal Distances | 250 km Isolines
However, there is no need to work hard. Before sitting down to calculate, it is useful to learn a bit about human population settlement preferences. The vast majority of humans prefer coastal areas. See the map below, which marks all the cities with more than one million inhabitants in 2006.
Cities with over 1 million denizens | 2006
With a few exceptions, most large cities are near the coast. All important cites are well within the Popeye SLCM’s range. We are left with Urumqi as the only large city protected from them. Would you live there? With a few German submarines and a large shipping company Israel has set up a World Wide Web of Terror and initiated Cold War 2.0.