A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Israel's Chemical and Biological Weapons Capabilities

For the first time in the debate over Syria's apparent use of chemical weapons, some discussion of Israel's capabilities in chemical and biological weapons has been heard. The Times of Israel has run a detailed piece by Mitch Ginsburg, "‘Should there be a need’: The inside story of Israel’s chemical and biological arsenal."

And there was this piece last week at Foreign Policy by Matthew M. Aid, "Exclusive: Does Israel Have Chemical Weapons Too? "  The report is based on a previously classified CIA estimate and contains previously undisclosed details, but it is hardly news that much of the intelligence community has long believed Israel has both chemical and biological capabilities, or the capacity to achieve them in short order. The article suggests the development of the capability was in response to Egypt's use of chemical weapons in the Yemen civil war.

Israel signed, but did not yet ratify, the Chemical Weapons Convention. It has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It's widely believed other countries in the region also have, or have had, CBW capabilities. Now that Syria has offered to sign and ratify the Convention, pressure may build for similar action by other regional countries.

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