US deploys nuclear-capable submarine to Middle East

US deploys nuclear-capable submarine to Middle East

Unclear if vessel carrying nuclear ballistic missiles or cruise missiles; CIA chief Burns arrives in Israel; Blinken warns Iran against attacking US personnel in region

An Ohio-class submarine in the US Central Command area of responsibility. Photo: US CENTCOM
An Ohio-class submarine in the US Central Command area of responsibility. Photo: US CENTCOM

TIMES OF ISRAEL – The US Central Command said earlier this week that an Ohio-class submarine has arrived in the Middle East region.

Ohio-class subs are both nuclear-powered and capable of carrying nuclear warheads, although it was unclear whether this submarine carries nuclear ballistic missiles.

While the US announcement was scarce on details, it was accompanied by an image that appeared to show a submarine in Egypt’s Suez Canal.

The arrival of the submarine is apparently part of the same strategy that has seen the Pentagon dispatch two carrier strike groups in order to deter Iran and its proxies — including Lebanon-based Hezbollah — from attacking Israel amid its war against Hamas.

According to CNN, the US Navy has four Ohio-class guided missile submarines, which have been converted to carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

US acknowledgment of an Ohio-class submarine location is relatively rare, as they represent part of America’s so-called “nuclear triad” of atomic weapons — which also includes land-based ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs aboard strategic bombers.

However, in April, the US military announced that it had dispatched an Ohio-class nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine to the Middle East to “help ensure regional maritime security and stability,” given increasing tensions with Iran.

In addition to releasing the photo of the submarine on Sunday, Central Command separately released an image of a nuclear-capable B-1 bomber also operating in the Mideast.

The announcement of the submarine’s arrival came as a US readout of one of the regular calls between US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday said that the former “reaffirmed the US commitment to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this conflict.”

Furthermore, the US has reportedly warned both Hezbollah and Iran that it is ready to act militarily against them if they escalate the conflict with Israel.

Also on Sunday, US Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns arrived in Israel to discuss the war against Hamas, according to reports.

He will also make stops in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt during the regional tour, which will include a particular focus on efforts to secure the release of the some 240 hostages currently being held in Gaza.

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