Syria disarmament puts focus on Israel WMDs

Syria disarmament puts focus on Israel WMDs
Sat Sep 14, 2013 14:04:36

Syria’s cooperation with the United Nations over its chemical weapons has turned attention of some Western and Arab diplomats on Israel's WMDs considering regime's history and role in regional wars and tensions.

After Syria admitted to give up its stockpiles of the chemical weapons and take tentative steps toward their elimination, Washington and Moscow could coax others into eventually following suit, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

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 its 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," Putin said on Tuesday.

This position could place the Obama administration in a diplomatic corner. The US has held to a decades-long policy of neither publicly acknowledging nor denying Israel's capabilities, which are believed to include nuclear warheads.

"The main danger of WMD is the Israel nuclear arsenal," Syria's Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja'afari told reporters on Thursday.

Al-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.

Israeli officials in interviews this week wouldn't confirm or deny the Syrian official's comments. Similarly, Israel doesn't acknowledge having nuclear weapons.


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