Israeli warships being built in shipyard owned by Abu-Dhabi firm

Revelation comes just days after news that Iranian government firm owns significant shares in ThyssenKrupp.

December 4, 2016 17:06
2 minute read.
Israeli warships.

Israeli warships.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Defense Ministry said Sunday the construction of four Israel Navy corvettes at a shipyard owned by an Abu Dhabi-based company does not jeopardize any classified information because all combat and internal systems will be installed in Israel.

“The contract to buy protective ships was signed with the German company, with direct involvement of the German government, which is funding a third of the cost of the deal,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement to The Jerusalem Post. “Prior to the signing of the contracts, the defense establishment’s director of security carried out checks with German government officials to confirm that no classified material from the project will be transferred to any unauthorized body that has not been approved as such.

“It is important to note that the German shipyard builds only the body of the ships, all of the systems will be installed in Israel,” it added.

The ministry was responding to a report by Yediot Aharonot on Sunday that the German shipyard where the new vessels are being constructed is operated by Abu Dhabi MAR.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, also has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel, and Israeli passport holders are prohibited from entering the country.

The construction of the four “Saar-6” class warships, which are due to arrive in Israel by 2020 to defend Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves, was agreed to in a €430 million deal between Israel and the German company ThyssenKrupp in 2015. ThyssenKrupp reportedly sub-contracted the work to German Naval Yards Kiel, which was sold to Abu Dhabi MAR in 2011.

German Naval Yards Kiel told Yediot Aharonot it is the secondary contractor of ThyssenKrupp Marine System and that its role in the deal with the Israel Navy is to contribute to the engineering of the vessel and build it in the Kiel shipyard. “The shipyard was in contact with the Israeli side only through ThyssenKrupp,” it said.

The report comes just a week after it was revealed that an Iranian government firm owns a 4.5% stake in ThyssenKrupp, which also is supplying Israel with new Dolphin-class submarines.

The Defense Ministry had not been aware of that ownership, raising concerns that Iran might get its hands on classified information on one of Israel’s most advanced weapons systems.

In January 2010, Israeli infrastructures minister Uzi Landau participated in an IRENA conference in Abu Dhabi, marking the first time an Israeli cabinet minister visited the country. A month later, senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was assassinated in Dubai, and police blamed the Mossad, leading to tensions rising to an all-time high between the two countries.

Four years later, then energy minister Silvan Shalom led an official Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi after the country’s ruler, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, said the UAE would be willing to improve relations if Israel agreed to a peace deal with the Palestinians.

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