ISRAEL HAS BEEN producing chemical weapons since the mid-1960s and now has a large stockpile, according to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (RFIS). The disclosure is bound to embarrass Israel, which has been pressing Arab states to abandon their chemical weapons programmes and which in January signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty barring the production, stockpiling and use of poison gases.
A report by the RFIS entitled The Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, was released earlier this year. It flatly declares: "Israel has a store of chemical weapons of its own manufacture." the report goes on to explain: "The development of chemical weapons in Israel began in the mid-1960s |and~ at the present time Israel is capable of producing toxic substances of all types including nerve-paralysing, blister-producing and temporarily incapacitating substances." The RFIS report also notes that "large scale research |in the interests of military departments~ is unceasing in Israel in the sphere of the synthesis of new physiologically active substances."
Israel is one of 142 states which have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention. Most Arab states have declined to sign, arguing that they should not be expected to limit their military options so long as Israel has atomic weapons and refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention are grouped into a series of regional caucuses. Israel is now pressing to join the Western European grouping. Western diplomatic sources say that there is considerable resistance by group members. In part, this is because Israel is in the Middle East, and not Europe. Also, however, it reflects concern about the sincerity of Israel's renunciation of chemical weapons.
The RFIS report confirms the open secret that Israel has a large nuclear stockpile of "from 100 to 200 weapons". The production facilities were developed mainly with help from France, although some equipment and materials were obtained illicitly in the United States, Britain, France and Germany, says the report. It notes that efforts are under way to create improved nuclear weapons incorporating...