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4/15/2003 2:21pm,
Every day at least one member of the US administration points an accusing finger at Damascus. Today it was the turn of White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "Syria is indeed a rogue nation".

In a telephone conversation with the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, President Bush has urged that diplomatic pressure be mounted on Syria not to harbor chemical weapons.

Syria’s response has been what it has been ever since the US began to turn up the heat days into the invasion of Iraq, accusing Damascus of harbouring Saddam Hussein loyalists to possessing a cache of undisclosed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

“The American accusations are baseless,” reiterated Syrian foreign minister, Farouq al-Shara. Another government spokeswoman went a step further, stating that “there could be WMDs in the Middle-East. But in Israel and not in Syria.”

The reference to its neighbour was intended to underline the what many in the region feel are the double-standards that the US is adopting.

Israel has long been suspected to have an undisclosed nuclear programme, but it hasn’t come under the scanner as yet.

It has the most advanced nuclear weapons program in the Middle East. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, clandestinely established the program in the late 1950s to meet the perceived threat to the nascent state. The program allegedly is centered at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre, outside the town of Dimona. Based on estimates of the plutonium production capacity of the Dimona reactor, Israel has approximately 100-200 nuclear explosive devices. Officially, Tel Aviv has declared that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East; however, it has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Israel has yet to subject itself to any kind of international inspection of its Dimona nuclear reactor. It signed an international agreement in 1998 for cutting down its production of nuclear materials like plutonium but experts believe that by itself is not enough to guarantee that it does not have a nuclear capability.

The agreement it signed makes it obligatory on Israel to prove that it no longer produces any nuclear fissionable materials. But it need not any longer, given that its reactors must have over the years produced hundreds of kilograms of plutonium. Worse still, since the half life of plutonium is 24,000 years, the stock of plutonium already produced would remain at Israel’s disposal for hundreds of years.

Nor is Tel Aviv a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). Israeli specialised military units are accused of having sabotaged water wells with typhoid and dysentery bacteria in Acre (near Haifa), Palestine during the 1948 war.

Israel has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Some reports have suggested an offensive programme is located at the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Ziona. In October 1992, an El Al airliner carrying a cargo of approximately 50 gallons of dimethyl methylphosphonate (a widely used simulant for defensive research but also a possible precursor of sarin nerve agent) destined for the Institute crashed in Amsterdam. Israel said this material was being imported to test gas masks.

The double-standards in weeding out proscribed weapons does not end here. Israel’s Supreme Court has recently given its army the nod to use Flechette tank shells, which spray thousands of dards over hundreds of metres, ripping apart anyone in the killing zone.

Its set the alarm bells ringing and even the Physicians for Human Rights, an Israeli advocacy group says that the use of such shells was in contravention of the Geneva convention covering the rules of warfare.

It is said that the shells have already killed 10 innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000. The Israeli army argues that the shells are only used selectively in its fight against terrorism. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the British military journal, Israel acquired the Flechette shells from none other than the US in the 1970s.

The US also has not been practising what it has been preaching about proscribed weapons.

On April 1, it dropped cluster bombs in the Iraqi town of al-Hilla, killing 33 civilians including many children. In the words of the Amnesty International, the human-rights body, “the use of cluster bombs is a gross violation of international humanitarian law.”

The war in Iraq bears testimony to more such violations by the US. The international chemical weapons convention, ratified by the US in 1997 insists that “each state party undertakes not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare.”

But this didn’t deter the US President from sanctioning the use of tear gas in the war, large quantities of which were even shipped to Iraq. Bush is permitted to give the sanction by an executive order published in 1975 by the then US president Gerald Ford, which overrides within the US the 1925 Geneva protocol on chemical weapons. It means that Bush cannot be impeached on the score within the US, even though his action is in violation of international law.

Last year the British newspaper, the Guardian, carried a report saying that scientists on both sides of the Atlantic were concerned that the US was developing a new generation of weapons that undermine and possibly violate international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.

The scientists, specialists in bio-warfare and chemical weapons, say the Pentagon, with the help of the British military, is also working on "non-lethal" weapons similar to the narcotic gas used by Russian forces to end last October's Moscow theatre siege.

The report was based on a paper published in the scientific journal Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Malcolm Dando, professor of international security at the University of Bradford, and Mark Wheelis, a lecturer in microbiology at the University of California, which focussed on recent US actions that have served to undermine the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

In July 2002, the US blocked an attempt to give the convention some bite with inspections, so that member countries could check if others were keeping the agreement. Dando and Wheelis claim that this was done to cover up its own research work on biological weapons.

These include CIA efforts to copy a Soviet cluster bomb designed to disperse biological weapons, a Pentagon project to build a bio-weapon plant from commercially available materials to prove that terrorists could do the same thing, and Defence Intelligence Agency research into the possibility of genetically engineering a new strain of antibiotic-resistant anthrax. The authors also highlighted a programme to produce dried and weaponised anthrax spores, officially for testing US bio-defences, but far more spores were allegedly produced than necessary for such purposes and it is unclear whether they have been destroyed or simply stored.

4/15/2003 2:51pm,
good article

"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind"

4/17/2003 10:51am,
I could turn a 2 foot section of PVC pipe into a weapon of mass destruction. I could beat 100's of people to death given enough time with this pipe of justice.

No point really. Just email me with someone you think needs a good killing and I'll add them to my list.

The Wastrel
4/17/2003 2:19pm,
Israeli disarmament is a key component to Middle Eastern peace, but why expect them to make the first move? In case anyone has forgotten, most of the Arab world seeks the destruction of Jewish Israel as an explicit goal, regardless of whether they return pre-1967 territories, or even grant the right of return.

**The most miraculous power that can verifiably be attributed to "chi" is its ability to be all things to virtually all people, depending on what version of the superstition they are attempting to defend at any given moment.**

4/17/2003 3:19pm,
Good point, but most Arab ppl/nations aren't gonna trust Israel unles they make a serious move towards peace.

"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind"

4/17/2003 10:22pm,
The talk is now subdued. Turkey and other nations are saying they wont put up with us continuing to play the maverick.

And when bringing democracy to Iraq proves harder than beating down an Iraqi military that really mostly melted away, there will be less ardor toward more military campaigns. Hell, we are still fighting in Afghanastan...

Kicking Machine
4/17/2003 10:55pm,
I'm a weapon of mass destruction.

4/18/2003 3:14am,
What does a booger smell like?

You like apples? How you like them apples, bitch?

4/18/2003 3:36am,
same as a piece of cat ****, if you keep it in your nose long enough.

4/19/2003 3:39pm,
HE HE Funny!

"Do what thou wilt is the whole of the Law"

4/19/2003 3:47pm,
Hey Freddy

Are you a Crowley cultist or just a fan?

Now doesn't that make you feel better?

4/23/2003 6:40pm,
Sorry Shura for not getting back to you. I havnt been on the board for the past few days. I'm not a worshipper of Crowley perhaps a fan. He was a barrel of laughs!

"Do what thou wilt is the whole of the Law"

4/23/2003 8:21pm,
Has anyone realised that only nuclear weapons is WMD. Chemcial and biological weapons are not WMD.

4/23/2003 8:30pm,
Here is a link.


Basically, conventional bomb can kill more people. As of nuclear, why bother to shop from iraq or syria when some second hand stuffs from russian arsenel are floating around in black market. If I remeber, Osama had deep pocket.

Edited by - vapour on April 23 2003 20:32:27

The Wastrel
4/23/2003 8:49pm,
I'm not sure, but I believe that WMD's became what they are because they are classified together in the military as NBC.

It isn't just numbers that keeps people concerned, but persistence and non-discrimination. Conventional bombs can at least be AIMED at military targets, and their destruction is not persistent. Biological weapons are nothing like that.

Generally, a very good article. And accurate as far as I can tell, I wasn't a chem specialist. 54B? I can't remember. But it doesn't challenge at all the basic concern these weapons pose that may qualify them as WMDs, which is that they are compact and difficult to detect, can be delivered at great economy in comparison to conventional weapons, and can inflict damage disproportionate to the requirements for effective delivery.

Must add that not ALL chem and bio weapons are used for area denial. Persistent agents like anthrax are very good for that, but not smallpox.

"I'm devastating, looking for some refreshment!"

Courtesy of flubtitles.com

The Wastrel
4/23/2003 8:49pm,
Russians had a nasty stockpile of smallpox that is being sought by UN teams.

"I'm devastating, looking for some refreshment!"

Courtesy of flubtitles.com