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Israel, long thought to have assembled a formidable nuclear weapons arsenal, is developing sea-based nuclear cruise missiles to deter threats from Arab neighbors, excerpts from a new book reported Saturday.

In their book, "Every Spy a Prince," authors Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman say fears of nuclear or chemical weapon attacks from Iraq, Libya and other enemy nations have prompted Israel's push for more sophisticated arms."Strategists in Israel have concluded that they have no choice but to prepare for a new balance of power in the Middle East: a balance of terror based on a regional version of `mutual assured destruction,' the so-called `MAD' doctrine that has helped keep the peace between the United States and Soviet Union," the authors write.

An excerpt of the book was made available to United Press International on Saturday. Houghton Mifflin is publishing the book this month.

Raviv and Melman quote intelligence sources as saying that Israel is only a few years away from developing cruise missiles that could be launched from submarines. The sea-based missiles would give Israel a second-strike capacity, enabling it to retaliate even if Arab forces managed to hit Israel's nuclear reactor, ground-to-ground missile sites and air force bases.

A State Department spokesman contacted Saturday said he had not heard of the book and declined comment.

Israel has refused to confirm or deny whether it possesses nuclear weapons. Faced with various revelations of its weapons-making capacity, the government has repeatedly said that "Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East."

Raviv, a CBS News correspondent, and Melman, an Israeli journalist, say West Germany has approved the sale of two submarines to Israel that would be capable of launching the cruise missiles at land targets.