Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What Syrian Officials say about their own Biological Weapon Capability

Long before war broke out across Syria, bio-defence analyst worried that along with Syria's best kept secret: its known chemical weapon stockpiles, Syria's biological weapon programs silently advanced mainly at the SSRC in Damascus supported of course by a substantial pharmaceutical industry. Western intelligence services quietly worried that Assad was building deployment platforms for one of the most dangerous class of weapon of mass destruction: biological. All was hush hush and the non-proliferation community worked equally hard to dispel such concerns and dismiss data in some instances, related to Assad's BW programs. After Iraq, many perceived it to be politically incorrect to discuss any nation suspected of working on BW, lest this usher in military intervention. Unfortunately this gave the green light to states of concern: Iran, Syria, the DPRK, Venezuela, Cuba among others who have been working along with no fear of intervention since Iraq weapon inspectors could not present their findings adequately to the public and press.

Interestingly, while some in the bio-defence community risked condemnation for even thinking Assad may have a BW program, the regime had already admitted to this in 2006. No notice was taken as the focus had been set on Iran's nuclear program and the disastrous NIE of 2007.  

Far from speculating on what Assad may or may not possess in the way of a biological weapon program, it is interesting to consider what the regime states about its own programs and capabilities. In 2004, an online publication called the Wednesday Report Canada's Aerospace and Defence Weekly noted the following: "Syria together with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Israel, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and Russia is currently considered to be a biological weapons possessor or developer by the United States. The Syrian military is also beginning to plan the eventual integration of biological weapons in its tactical and strategic arsenals. In April 2000, Syrian defence minister General Mustafa Talas published a lengthy article entitled "Biological (Germ) Warfare: A New and Effective Method in Modern Warfare." (Interestingly, the article was published in Persian translation in Tehran, the key Muslim strategic ally of Damascus.) All indications suggest that Syria's ultimate objective is to mount biological warheads on all varieties of long-rang surface to surface missiles in its possession. This is a goal that can probably be achieved within a few years, and it may already have been realized in part. 

This statement was republished in an article which appeared in the Middle East Quarterly in 2002, entitled: Poisoned Missiles: Syrian's Doomsday Deterrent", the author of this article was Dr. Dany Shohom, an internationally recognized expert on Syria's WMD. http://www.meforum.org/510/poisoned-missiles-syrias-doomsday-deterrent

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi

On July 24, 2012 the Wall Street Journal reported that "Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said Damascus wouldn't use unconventional arms against its citizens. "Any stocks of WMD or any unconventional weapons that the Syrian Arab Republic possesses will never be used against civilians or against the Syrian people during this crisis in any circumstance, no matter how the crisis should evolve," he said.
In confirming the existence of such weapons, Damascus also issued a challenge to foreign governments that it has accused of meddling in its crisis.
"All of the stocks of these weapons that the Syrian Arab Republic posses are monitored and guarded by the Syrian army," Mr. Makdissi said. "These weapons are meant to be used only and strictly in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic." See: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390443437504577544632378473006
Reluctance by Western non-proliferation NGO's to acknowledge Syria's biological weapon program, given it's own statements on its programs is highly concerning. While some may hold the US government and specifically the Bush Administration, responsible for efforts to decommission Saddam Hussein's biological weapon program, run mainly under the cover of his bio-pharmaceutical industry, this in no way translates into discounting that other nations run sophisticated offensive biological weapon programs; particularly when a country such as Syria admits it does. While UN inspectors continue to monitor the regime's use of chemical weapons in numerous attacks we should have no doubt biological weapons are just another weapon class which might be used in the near future against Syrian civilians. Unfortunately for the international community, biological warfare agents have the potential to spread and increase the risk of pandemic and epidemic disease outbreaks. Assad has proved over and over again, he makes no moral distinction in his selection of weapons for use in war against civilians. While the regime stated it would  not use chemical or biological weapons it has used chemical on several occasions, thus negating these statements.
Dragon voice recognition

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