Last week on September 9, as a collective gasp of relief over the Russia-Syria deal could be heard around the world, Foreign Policy magazine published an article revealing a 1983 CIA intelligence document stating Israel likely had a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert.
As John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva today to discuss the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile the Wall Street Journal spotlights a “ripple effect“, the focus on Israel’s nuclear program:
GENEVA—The joint U.S. Russian push to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons is starting to have ripple effects, focusing attention on the suspected arsenal of Israel.
But a frequent complaint among Arab countries in the region—that Israel has an undeclared but presumed nuclear-weapons program—has already resurfaced.
Syria’s government has hinted that it could raise Israel’s suspected arsenal of nuclear and other weapons as an international issue and potentially a precondition for Damascus moving ahead on the destruction of what the U.S. estimates is at least 1,000 tons of chemical agents.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly stated that Syria’s program was only necessary as a defense against Israel’s vastly superior firepower.
“It’s well known that Syria has a certain arsenal of chemical weapons and the Syrians always viewed that as an alternative [response] to Israel’s nuclear weapons,” he said Tuesday.
This position could place the Obama administration in a diplomatic corner……
“The main danger of WMD is the Israel nuclear arsenal,” Syria’s ambassador to the U.N., Bashar Ja’afari, told reporters on Thursday.
Mr. Ja’afari said Israel needed to place its suspected atomic weapons under international supervision and sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. He said Syria wasn’t making such actions by Israel a prerequisite for Syria moving ahead and destroying its chemical weapons, but said the world must also focus on the Israeli arsenals.
“Israel has chemical weapons and nobody is speaking about it,” he said.
LA Times reports Israel also facing questions about chemical weapons:
Israel has cheered the Syrians’ promise to hand over their chemical weapons and sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, but it is increasingly worried that the international pressure building may soon focus on Israel, which has refused to ratify the treaty and is believed to possess chemical weapons.
Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, but it never ratified the agreement.
Israeli officials insist that their government is willing to ratify the treaty, but only after others in the region follow suit. Syria and Egypt notably have refused to sign the accord outlawing the use of chemical weapons.
Israel’s regional enemies have insisted they need chemical weapons to counter the threat of the nuclear weapons Israel is believed to possess. No other Middle East nation is thought to have such an arsenal.