Israel is equipping submarines built in Germany with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, according to an in-depth report in Der Spiegel magazine.

The magazine also reported Sunday that the German government has known about Israel’s nuclear weapons program for decades, despite its official denials.

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Last month, Israel received from Germany its fourth Dolphin–class submarine, which is slated to become operational in 2013.

Germany has largely funded Israel’s purchase of the submarines.

According to Spiegel, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the magazine that Germans should be “proud” that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years.”

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it has a nuclear weapons program.

The German government recently signed a contract for the delivery of the sixth vessel, with one-third of the cost being subsidized by Germany. The delivery of the sixth sub has been conditioned on Israel’s stopping construction in the settlements and allowing the completion of a sewage treatment plant in Gaza which is partially financed by Germany.

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