Se la Siria e l'Iran hanno armi chimiche, ugualmente ne hanno Israele ed Egitto
If Syria, Iran have chemical weapons so do Israel. and Egypt
For close to a month now, United States-led forces have been looking for
the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that Iraq's Saddam Hussein government
had kept "hidden". Nothing has been found so far, and the search continues.
A key factor in the invasion was the WMD reason, despite the fact that
United Nations inspectors had not come up with anything. Failure to find
chemical weapons in Iraq has however not come in the way of the US pointing
its fingers at Syria. This has triggered off alarm bells in the Arab world.
Arab governments say the US stand on chemical weapons in particular and WMDs
in general is hypocritical. For, Washington's closest ally in the region
Israel too possesses WMDs, including chemical weapons, and it is not being
pressured to dump them.
An Israeli runs past a billboard reminding the population to be prepared for
chemical weapons attack
Syria, Israel, Iraq, Libya and Egypt have not ratified the Chemical Weapons
Convention. Iran has ratified it but is yet to make its initial
Washington claims Syria is in possession of chemical weapons. According to
a Carnegie analysis, US intelligence believes Syria has a significant
stockpile of the nerve agent sarin. A 1990 intelligence assessment reported
that Syria had weaponized these chemicals in 500-kilogram aerial bombs and
warheads for its Scud-B missiles.
The Carnegie analysis notes that Israel too possesses advanced chemical
weapons capabilities, although the details of what they have is not known.
Israel is believed to have had sophisticated chemical weapons programs for
several decades which is centered at the Israel Institute for Biological
Research (IIBR) at Ness Ziona, some 10 kilometers south of Tel Aviv. There,
Israel reportedly has conducted advanced research on both chemical and
In the absence of information from the Israeli government, non-Israeli
publications have made many claims about Israel's chemical weapon
capabilities, from the trivial to the most sensationalist. The government of
Israel, as part of its traditional deliberate ambiguity policy, has neither
confirmed nor denied those reports, Carnegie points out.
Acknowledging the difficulties in assessing Israel's CBW programs and
capabilities, the analysis quoting experts states that "a near-consensus
exists among experts-based on anecdotal evidence and intelligence leaks-that
Israel developed, produced, stockpiled, and maybe even deployed chemical
weapons at some point in its history."
Quoting other studies, the Carnegie analysis says that Israel had an
operational chemical warfare testing facility. The chemical capabilities of
Syria, Iraq and Iran are matched by Israel's possession of a wide range of
these weapons, it says.
According to Gitty M Amini of the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies
(CNS), the activities of the Israel Institute for Biological Research in
Ness Ziona, has aroused suspicion especially after the October 1992
discovery of about 50 gallons of dimethyl methylphosphonate at an El Al
crash site in Amsterdam. The chemical-a possible precursor to the sarin
nerve agent and a common simulant for weapons research-was destined for the
institute. The Israeli government denies such allegations and has offered
benign explanations for any suspicious activities.
The CNS states that Israel has an active weapons programme, but may not have
deployed chemical warheads on ballistic missiles. It has the production
capability for mustard and nerve agents.
Extensive weapons programme
The CNS' Amini study says that Syria may have one of the most extensive
chemical weapons programmes in the developing world. Its initial chemical
warfare program and stockpile of chemical agents were allegedly supplied by
Egypt in 1973 prior to the October War with Israel.
"It is also believed that Syria now has an indigenous capability to produce
and weaponize nerve agents, such as sarin and VX, and blister agents, such
as mustard. Syria has fit Scud-B and Scud-C missiles with chemical warheads
and, in 1999, is believed to have tested a Scud-B with a warhead able to
disperse VX. There are thought to be at least three facilities in Syria that
are currently producing chemical weapons: near Damascus, Hama, and Safira
village (in Aleppo)," says Amini.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami urged the US to stop threatening Syria
the case of Iran, the analysis states that in May 1998, after acceding to
the CWC, the government acknowledged past Iranian involvement in chemical
weapons development and production. The Iranian chemical weapons programme
began in the 1980's during the war with Iraq. According to the CNS, Iran
undertook limited use of chemical weapons during the war with Iraq, at first
using captured Iraqi chemical weapon munitions.
Though Iran claims that its chemical weapons programme was wound up after
the war with Iraq, the US believes Iran's chemical weapons programme remains
intact. Limited use of chemical weapons in 1984-1988 during war with Iraq,
initially using captured Iraqi CW munitions. It began stockpiling cyanogen
chloride, phosgene, and mustard gas after 1985. Further, the CNS says, Iran
initiated nerve agent production in 1994.
Egypt, with a US-friendly Arab government, was the first in the Middle-East
to embark on a chemical weapons programme and also the first to use them.
It reportedly employed phosgene and mustard gas against royalist forces in
the Yemeni civil war between 1963-67, making it one of the few states to
have engaged in chemical warfare. It is believed to still have a research
programme and has never reported the destruction of any of its chemical
agents or weapons, the Carnegie study said.
The CNS points out that Egypt supplied Syria with chemical weapons in the
early '70s, exported chemical weapon agents and technology during the 1980s.
It is said to be developing nerve agent feed stock plants and has a
stockpile of mustard and nerve agents.
Egypt reportedly inherited British stockpiles of mustard gas after the
British withdrawal in 1954, and received chemical weapons assistance from
the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Apparently, Egypt also has nerve agent
and psychoactive chemical capabilities, in addition to a well-developed
infrastructure, support system, and possible delivery capabilities. Egypt
however publicly denies possessing chemical weapons.
Libya used small quantities of mustard agent against Chadian troops in 1987,
says the Centre for Non-proliferation studies. It produced over 100 tonnes
of nerve and blister agents at Rabta facility in the 1980s besides
initiating construction of underground chemical agent production facility at
Turkey and Jordan are not known to have chemical weapons, while Iraq's
merits a separate treatment. --- Al Jazeera