Report: CIA believes Israel acquired chemical weapons decades ago

Foreign Policy: US found probable "nerve agent production facility," according to CIA document.

September 10, 2013 12:11
2 minute read.
An IDF drill in the Negev

IDF drill in the Negev 370. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Israel is believed to have secretly developed a range of chemical weapons in the 1960s and 70s as further defense against an attack by the surrounding enemy states, according to a report in Foreign Policy, which quotes a "secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate." 

The CIA document, Foreign Policy says, states that US satellites in 1982 found "a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility... at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert." Furthermore, the document is claimed to have said, "Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry."

The CIA document purportedly goes on to say that, "While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents, several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents... with suitable delivery systems."

The article claims that the research and development of these weapons is being carried out at what it brands the "secretive" Israel Institute for Biological Research, located in Nes Ziona, a short distance south of Tel Aviv. 

According to Foreign Policy, Work on the project was stepped up following the near disaster of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when attacking Arab armies caught the state by surprise on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

The report also claims that in January 1976, US intelligence was led to believe that Israel conducted a "possible test" of chemical weapons in the Negev desert. The report quotes a US air force intelligence officer, who says that the US National Security Agency intercepted communications which proved that Israel Air Force bombers conducted simulated chemical weapons delivery missions at a bombing range in the Negev.

The author of the report also claims to have identified a possible site for the storage of chemical weapons in the Negev. After intensive research on Google Maps, the writer surmised that "imagery search found what I believe is the location of the Israeli nerve agent production facility and its associated chemical weapons storage area in a desolate and virtually uninhabited area of the Negev Desert just east of the village of al-Kilab, which is only 10 miles west of the outskirts of the city of Dimona."

The report comes as the United States government is currently seeking domestic and international consensus for truncated military action against the Syrian regime over its alleged recent use of chemical weapons on its own population.

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