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After Syria, Israel fears it may be asked to surrender its chemical arms

Last Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 - 16:41

Jerusalem: Wary of international pressures that Israel may also be asked to submit to UN supervision of its chemical weapons after Syria, the Jewish state remains adamant that it will not ratify chemical arms treaty as long as other states in the region refuse to recognise it.

Russian officials during recent weeks have repeatedly drawn a connection between Syria`s chemical weapons and Israeli military capabilities, something that has not gone unnoticed among officials here.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Syria`s chemical weapons exist as a response to Israeli military capabilities, while his ambassador to Paris told Radio France that Damascus` chemical weapons were meant to preserve its balance of deterrence against "nuclear" Israel.

Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, but never ratified it. Maintaining a policy of ambiguity around its nuclear programme, Israel has not agreed to submit itself to international inspections or to refrain from steps that would violate the convention.

Syria, which is suspected of having the largest stockpile of chemical weapons arsenals in the world, has not even signed the convention, nor has Israel`s other neighbour, Egypt, which also has a chemical weapons programme.

However, Syria applied on Thursday to join the convention, which bans the production and stockpiling of chemical weapons and orders the destruction of existing stocks. The UN has accepted Syria`s application.
Both Syria and Egypt have used Israel as their excuse for not signing the convention arguing on various international forums over the years that they would agree to sign only if Israel signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and opened its nuclear reactor in Dimona to international inspectors.

Iran, whose nuclear programme has been described as an existential threat by many in Israel, signed the convention in 1993 and ratified it in 1997.

Nevertheless, officials at the Foreign Ministry here claim that Iran secretly maintains a large stash of chemical weapons.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told daily Ha`aretz that Tel Aviv would not ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention as long as other states in the region with chemical weapons refuse to recognise Israel and threaten to destroy it.

First Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013 - 16:41

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