Nahum Manbar 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Havakuk Levison)
The international spotlight is often pointed at Iran’s developing nuclear
program, but the country’s chemical weapons capabilities often evade media
RELATED:Businessman who sold arms to Iran set free after 14 years
Nahum Manbar says his only crime was to trade with Iran. But
former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit said Manbar’s convicted crime of selling
components and knowledge to Iran that were designed to assemble chemical weapons
constitute “the worst case of treachery, driven by greed” in Israeli
According to Iran expert Ephraim Kam, deputy director of Tel
Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, by 1987 Iran had
already developed and openly admitted to possessing chemical military weapons,
as a counter and deterrent to Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against it during
the long and bloody Iran-Iraq war.
“The Iranian’s didn’t use these
weapons as far as we know against Iraq, perhaps because they weren’t developed
enough,” Kam said.
Three years later, in 1990, Manbar, a well-known
businessman in the Israeli sporting world who sponsored the Hapoel Holon and
Hapoel Jerusalem basketball teams, enabled the Iranians to develop their program
He arranged the delivery of mustard and nerve gas components to
Iranian hands, and also provided information about how to make nerve gas,
according to the Tel Aviv District Court.
Today, Iran likely had the
necessary delivery vehicles for such weapons in the form of chemical warheads
placed on missiles, Kam said, although no known tests have been
“We must take into account that they have this ability,” Kam
Kam said Iranian officials have made no mention whatsoever of
Manbar’s brother, Zvi, has an altogether different version of
He told Israel Radio on Monday that his brother had been the
victim of a vindictive security and intelligence establishment which locked in
on Manbar as a scapegoat following a motorcycle crash which killed two Mossad
agents who were reportedly tracking Manbar and an Iranian official he met with
“I belong to the ‘vindictive’ camp,” Shavit said sarcastically
on Monday in response to the claims. Shabtai’s disgust with Manbar’s acts, and
belief that his prison sentence was insufficient, likely represents the emotions
of many in the intelligence world.