U.S. Allies Also Have Chemical Weapons
Find a Conversation
|Mon, 04-14-2003 - 7:03pm|
AP TECHNOLOGY WRITER
The Bush administration cited Iraq's alleged stocks of weapons of mass destruction in its decision to invade. President Bush now says Syria, too, owns an arsenal of chemical weapons.
But the list of countries with likely chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs is not confined to nations Washington may consider hostile. It also includes such U.S. allies as Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, India and Taiwan.
"The allegation is, we use weapons of mass destruction as an excuse when we have it out for other countries," said Jon B. Wolfsthal, deputy director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "We tend to look the other way when it suits our interest. That decision has come back to haunt us."
Israel's nuclear weapons program is thought to include about 200 warheads deployed on ballistic missiles and aircraft, Wolfsthal said. In 2000, Israel placed nuclear-tipped missiles on three submarines, pushing its capabilities beyond those of declared nuclear states India and Pakistan - and possibly even China, Wolfsthal said.
In a strategy reminiscent of Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel is believed to store nuclear missiles on mobile launchers in caves, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Israel is also believed to stock chemical and biological weapons, according to the Carnegie Endowment and the Monterey Institute of International Studies, which track such issues.
Israeli officials do not comment on the country's nuclear weapons potential.
Egypt, another leading U.S. ally, is believed to harbor chemical weapons - including deadly sarin and VX agents - along with, perhaps, an offensive bioweapons capability, according to the Monterey Institute.
India and Pakistan have publicly tested nuclear weapons. They are also suspected to be engaged in chemical and biological weapons research, according to Carnegie and Monterey.
Taiwan, another staunch U.S. ally, probably maintains a chemical weapons program and may have a biological research program, according to Monterey.
Saudi Arabia has bought nuclear-capable intermediate-range missiles from China, though the Saudis are not believed to have unconventional warheads to put in them, Wolfsthal said.
Wolfsthal said the Bush administration would be shortsighted to single out Syria, North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Ignoring proliferation among allies like Israel and Pakistan has allowed the technology to spread further, he said.
Israel is known to have aided South Africa's now-defunct nuclear program. Pakistan is believed to have cooperated with similar programs in North Korea and Iran.
Other countries with current chemical and biological weapons stocks or research programs include Russia, China, Libya and Sudan, according to the Carnegie Endowment.
The United States and Britain, both among the world's seven declared nuclear powers, developed their own chemical and biological weapons in the past. Britain has destroyed all such stocks, and the United States is still eliminating the last vestiges of its chemical weapons, said Amy Smithson, a chemical and biological weapons researcher with the Henry L. Stimson Center, a national security think tank in Washington.
The United States still develops small amounts of weapons-grade chemical and biological toxins in order to defend against them, Smithson said.