Israel is arming submarines supplied and largely financed by Germany with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, influential German news weekly Der Spiegel reports in its issue to be published on Monday.

The magazine said in a cover story that Berlin had until now denied any knowledge that German submarines were being used as part of an Israeli atomic arsenal.

But former high-ranking officials of the German defence ministry told Der Spiegel that the government always assumed Israel was putting nuclear warheads on the Dolphin-class vessels.