Friday, September 20, 2013

Pt.2: What about Israel's chemical weapon arsenal?

Tuesday September 17/13 Part 1:  Speaking of chemical weapons.... What about Israel's arsenal?
Israel has never acknowledged possessing either chemical or nuclear weapons.
 Not acknowledging is not the same as not possessing. From where I am sitting, it looks 100 percent certain that Israel has a substantial chemical arsenal

An article this month in Foreign Policy revealed a 1983 CIA intelligence estimate that Israel was likely developing a nerve agent at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert.
Does Israel have chemical weapons too?

It is almost universally believed in intelligence circles here in Washington that Israel possesses a stockpile of several hundred fission nuclear weapons, and perhaps even some high-yield thermonuclear weapons. Analysts believe the Israeli government built the nuclear stockpile in the 1960s and 1970s as a hedge against the remote possibility that the armies of its Arab neighbors could someday overwhelm the Israeli military. But nuclear weapons are not the only weapon of mass destruction that Israel has constructed.

 Reports have circulated in arms control circles for almost 20 years that Israel secretly manufactured a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons to complement its nuclear arsenal. 
 Much of the attention has been focused on the research and development work being conducted at the Israeli government's secretive Israel Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona, located 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv.

But little, if any, hard evidence has ever been published to indicate that Israel possesses a stockpile of chemical or biological weapons. This secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate may be the strongest indication yet.

According to the document, American spy satellites uncovered in 1982 "a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility... at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry." 

"While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents," the document adds, "several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems." 

Whether Israel still maintains this alleged stockpile is unknown. In 1992, the Israeli government signed but never ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans such arms. (The Israeli embassy in Washington did not respond to requests to comment on this article.) 

The CIA estimate, a copy of which was sent to the White House, also shows that the U.S. intelligence community had suspicions about this stockpile for decades, and that the U.S. government kept mum about Israel's suspected possession of chemical weapons just as long.

So the US knows about Israel's stockpile of chemical weapons and yet they stay mum.... why?

These facts were recently discovered by a researcher -- a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous -- at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. He had found, stapled to an innocuous unclassified report, a single page that someone in the White House had apparently removed from his or her copy of a secret September 15, 1983 CIA Special National Intelligence Estimate entitled Implications of Soviet Use of Chemical and Toxin Weapons for US Security Interests.
 Ordinarily this 30-year-old intelligence estimate would have attracted only passing interest from researchers because much of the report, which dealt primarily with unproven allegations of Soviet use of chemical and biological weapons in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia, had been largely declassified in 2009 and can now be found in the CREST database of declassified CIA documents at the College Park, Maryland research facility of the National Archives. But while the CIA was willing to declassify those portions of the report that deal with the U.S.S.R. and some of its client states -- including Syria -- it was far less willing to release any information about the chemical weapons activities of countries outside the Soviet Bloc.
But what makes the single page found at the Reagan Library so explosive is that it contains the complete and unredacted portion of the intelligence estimate that details what the CIA thought it knew back in 1983 about Israel's work on chemical weapons, which the CIA's censors had carefully excised from the version released to the National Archives in 2009.
 The US always covering for Israel.........
You can click on both of the pages to get a better read.

The unredacted page

the redacted page

I had to get the rest of the foreign policy article here

The estimate shows that in 1983 the CIA had hard evidence that Israel possessed a chemical weapons stockpile of indeterminate size, including, according to the report, “persistent and non-persistent nerve agents.” The persistent nerve agent referred to in the document is not known, but the non-persistent nerve agent in question was almost certainly sarin.
But the CIA assessment suggests that the Israelis accelerated their research and development work on chemical weapons following the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. According to the report, U.S. intelligence detected “possible tests” of Israeli chemical weapons in January 1976, which, again, almost certainly took place somewhere in the Negev Desert. A former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer whom I interviewed recalled that at about this time, the National Security Agency captured communications showing that Israeli air force fighter-bombers operating from Hatzerim Air Base outside the city of Beersheba in southern Israel had been detected conducting simulated low-level chemical weapons delivery missions at a bombing range in the Negev Desert.
(…)To complicate things further, in January 1976 the long-simmering civil war in Lebanon was beginning to heat up. And the CIA was increasingly concerned about the growing volume of evidence, much of it coming from human intelligence sources inside Israel, indicating that the Israeli nuclear weapons stockpile was growing both in size and raw megatonnage. At the same time that all this was happening, the Israeli “chemical weapons” test mentioned in CIA document occurred. It increased the already-heightened level of concern within the U.S. intelligence community about what the Israelis were up to.
At some point in late 1982, as the Reagan administration strove with minimal success to get the Israeli government to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, American spy satellites discovered what the 1983 CIA intelligence described as “a probable CW nerve agent production facility and a storage facility ... at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert.”
The CIA report, however, provides no further elucidation about the size or production capacity of the newly discovered Israeli nerve agent production facility near Dimona, or even where the so-called “Dimona Sensitive Storage Area” was located.
At my request, a friend of mine who retired years ago from the U.S. intelligence community began systematically scanning the available cache of commercial satellite imagery found on the Google Maps website, looking for the mysterious and elusive Israeli nerve agent production facility and weapons storage bunker complex near the city of Dimona where Israel stores its stockpile of chemical weapons.
It took a little while, but the imagery search found what I believe is the location of the Israeli nerve agent production facility and its associated chemical weapons storage area in a desolate and virtually uninhabited area of the Negev Desert just east of the village of al-Kilab, which is only 10 miles west of the outskirts of the city of Dimona. The satellite imagery shows that the heavily protected weapons storage area at al-Kilab currently consists of almost 50 buried bunkers surrounded by a double barbed-wire-topped fence and facilities for a large permanent security force. I believe this extensive bunker complex is the location of what the 1983 CIA intelligence estimate referred to as the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area.
If you drive two miles to the northeast past the weapons storage area, the satellite imagery shows that you run into another heavily guarded complex of about 40 or 50 acres. Surrounded again by a double chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, the complex appears to consist of an administrative and support area on the western side of facility. The eastern side of the base, which is surrounded by its own security fence, appears to consist of three large storage bunkers and a buried production and/or maintenance facility. Although not confirmed, the author believes that this may, in fact, be the location of the Israeli nerve agent production facility mentioned in the 1983 CIA report.

Part 3 : What about Israel's Chemical Arsenal?

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