There is a piece in today’s Sunday Times of London entitled “Israel stations nuclear missile subs off Iran”  (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7140282.ece).  The article states that Israel is sending one of its three Dolphin class submarines to the Persian Gulf “near the Iranian coastline” to permit retaliation if Iran or its allies in Syria and Lebanon attempt a missile strike against Israel.  The presumption is that Israel would be prepared to retaliate using nuclear armed cruise missiles. 

If the story is true it is alarming because it considerably increases the tension level in the Middle East due to the threat of a nuclear strike.  But the story is suspicious because it appears in the Rupert Murdoch owned Times, which has often been a conduit for stories places by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad.  The submarines in question have  a range of 2700 miles.  The distance from the Israeli naval port in Eilat on the Red Sea to the Gulf of Oman is slightly more than that one way.  The Israeli vessels would not be able to refuel at any neutral port in the Indian Ocean making the logistics somewhat complicated, requiring refueling at sea by a support ship sent out from Israel.  As the Israeli naval is designed for coastal defense, it does not have such a vessel, though I suppose something could be improvised.

There is also a subplot.  The Times story additionally relates that Israeli defense minister Ehud Barack allegedly showed President Obama “classified satellite images of a convoy of ballistic missiles leaving Syria on the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”  The fact is that US intelligence, which has far better capabilities than the Israelis, cannot verify the missile story that the Israelis have been peddling for several months.  The Israelis clearly want the US to buy into the scud threat, but CIA analysts have so far found the evidence unconvincing.

So we have a suspicious story with phony supporting details.  Floating the story might be intended to scare the Iranians into doing something stupid or to pressure the White House into doing something equally dumb by rolling over for Bibi Netanyahu when he visits Washington on Tuesday.  It might also be an attempt to heighten the threat from Hezbollah and Syria, such as it is.  Or it might have multiple objectives.  Disinformation involves creating a false story and distributing it widely in an attempt to shift the narrative in a way favorable to your own interests.  The Times story was picked up immediately by the media in Israel and Iran and also by the UPI, giving it credibility, which is exactly how disinformation is supposed to work.