Israeli Report: US-Russia Deal Silent on Assad's Biological Weapons

Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 04:00 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Syrian President Bashar Assad has two weapons bases where anthrax and other devastating biological agents are developed, and yet the U.S.-Russia deal aimed at stripping his regime of chemical weapons contains no provisions requiring that he relinquish his biological-weapons capability, Israeli TV reported.
 
There is "not a word" about biological weapons in the agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on September 15, Channel 10 news said, according to a report in the Times of Israel.
 
Assad has two biological-weapons bases — one of them underground and a second in a coastal location — producing anthrax and other agents, the report said
 
In an unclassified report published in April, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper emphasized that Syria could be capable of "limited" biological-weapons production.
 
"Based on the duration of Syria's longstanding biological warfare program, we judge that some elements of the program may have advanced beyond the research and development stage and may be capable of limited agent production," Clapper wrote. "Syria is not known to have successfully weaponized biological agents in an effective delivery system, but it possesses conventional and chemical weapon systems that could be modified for biological agent delivery."
 
A 2008 report on Syrian WMD by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, went further, citing Israeli sources. He wrote that according to Israel, "Syria weaponized botulinum and ricin toxins in the early 1990s, and probably anthrax."
 
The Cordesman report noted that "using advanced agents — such as the most lethal forms of anthrax — can have the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons," according to the Times of Israel.
 
The report added that while it is difficult to design missile warheads to disseminate such agents, "this is not beyond Syrian capabilities — particularly since much of the technology needed to make effective cluster munitions and bomblets for VX gas can be adapted to the delivery of biological weapons."

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