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The Chemical and Biological Threat

Dany Shoham

Policy Paper No. 29, From the books:

Ballistic Missiles
The Threat and
the Response

Arieh Stav (ed.),
ACPR Publishers and
Yediot Aharonot (Hebrew), 1998
ACPR Publishers and
Brassey's (UK) Ltd. (English),

The Threat of Ballistic Missiles in the
Middle East:
Active Defense and

Arieh Stav (ed.),
Sussex Academic Press and
ACPR Publishers, 2004


The Moslem block includes today six countries, at least, which possess chemical and biological weapons (CBW): four Arab states, namely Syria, Libya, Iraq and Egypt, and two non-Arab states, namely Iran and Pakistan. Advanced long-range ballistic missiles technologies are concurrently and persistently being procured by those countries, so as to allow the conjunction of these two strategic weapon systems. Saudi-Arabia, Sudan and Algeria as well, are likely to pursue having CBW, if not already possessing them.

Kazachstan, essentially a Moslem state, forms a most significant bridge for CBW technology transfer from the formerly USSR into Middle-Eastern Moslem countries, while Pakistan plays a similar role with respect to technology absorption from the Far-East. Three major Moslem states Iraq, Iran and Libya, are extreme by nature, particularly in their attitude towards Israel and the West. Iran and Libya, plus Syria and Egypt, are being assisted by another non-Moslem radical state of remarkable capacity North Korea. In addition, the evolving inter-Moslem CBW related technological cooperation (for instance Iran-Syria, Egypt-Libya, Iraq-Sudan) may rapidly develop into a strategic one, and may gain a supreme quantum leap if Iraq, for example, decides to share its profound CBW expertise with other Arab and Moslem countries. The spreading of such critical mass to the whole Arab world (and Iran, through Arab countries like Libya) would create a larger threat to Israel and to South Europe, and has far-reaching ramifications because it essentially removes dependency on non-Arab resources, thereby reducing intelligence sources and allowing maximum inter-Moslem cooperation.

Extrapolating from the current ongoing processes, one should conclude that it is only a matter of time before the amassing of CBW stockpiles, including remarkably long-range ballistic missiles warheads, will be accomplished. This will enable their launching from every enemy area to any location within Israel, as well as to considerable parts of Europe. In terms of basic strategic time, there is no fundamental difference if this accomplishment will occur in three, six or nine years.

The uncertainty as to the validity of an Islamic nuclear umbrella furnished by the nuclear capabilities of Pakistan may considerably diminish soon, if, or more precisely when, Iran (not mentioning Iraq or other Arab countries) acquires nuclear arms. An expected, virtually inevitable, development of that sort can generate a severe strategic shift, in that at least Iran, Iraq and Libya will feel free to employ CBW, in the belief that they are protected from nuclear counter-strikes, and willing even to absorb a CB attack.

All in all, the described circumstances may evolve into the formation of a hostile Middle-Eastern Moslem block that would pose a distinct chemical and biological menace to Israel and to South Europe. The increasing offensive potentiality of chemical and particularly biological weapons, constitutes a strategic threat that should be expediently faced.

For the complete text of this article in Hebrew, click here.