Israel’s Chemical Weapons Stockpile Highlights Western Hypocrisy

Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, Gaza 2009
white phosphorous chemical was used during
“22 days of death and destruction” – Amnesty Int’l
Dees Illustration

Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post

Unmitigated hysteria continues to be expressed regarding the possession of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. This continues despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence tying the Assad government to the deployment of chemical weapons in Syria. The U.S. government and the rest of the Anglo-American network relentlessly demonstrates its unwavering hypocrisy on the chemical weapons and WMD issue.

Syria and Iraq’s possession of chemical WMDs have been considered to be situations warranting an immediate military response, while the possibility of a nuclear Iran is used to browbeat the American populace into a state of fear over a nuclear holocaust. Meanwhile, the possession of chemical and biological weapons, as well as hundreds of nuclear warheads by the state of Israel, has been simultaneously denied and ignored. Clearly, some Middle Eastern countries re more equal than others.

Yet, while both Israel and the West have denied the existence of many of these weapons for some time, a recent article published by the official magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy, has demonstrated that Israel does indeed possess chemical and biological weapons, as well as its own nuclear stockpile.

The report entitled “Does Israel Have Chemical Weapons Too?” revolves around a recently discovered document belonging to the Central Intelligence Agency which was apparently found by a friend of Matthew M. Aid, the author of the article, at the Ronald Reagan Library — a single page had been stapled to an “innocuous unclassified document.” The page was attached to a September 15, 1983 report entitled “Implications of Soviet Use of Chemical and Toxin Weapons for US Security Interests.”

The unclassified report dealt with unproven claims regarding Soviet chemical and biological weapons usage in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia and was largely declassified in 2009. Interestingly enough, however, while the CIA was willing to declassify the part of the report that dealt with Soviet possession and use of chemical and biological weapons as well as that of some of its client states, the agency was much less willing to declassify the sections of the report dealing with countries outside of the Soviet sphere. Indeed, censors actually removed virtually all of the information related to the Middle East before releasing it to the National Archives. Most notably, all references to what the CIA believed it knew regarding Israel’s chemical weapons programs in 1983 were entirely scrubbed.

According to Foreign Policy,

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.

Indeed, according to the document, in 1982, spy satellites uncovered “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.”

The report also stated,

While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents 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.

Aid describes the level of knowledge regarding the Israeli chemical weapons by writing,

The 1983 CIA estimate reveals that U.S. intelligence first became aware of Israeli chemical weapons-testing activities in the early 1970s, when intelligence sources reported the existence of chemical weapons test grids, which are specially instrumented testing grounds used to measure the range and effectiveness of different chemical agents, particularly nerve agents, in simulated situations and in varying climatic conditions. It is almost certain that these testing grids were located in the arid and sparsely populated Negev Desert, in southern Israel. 

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. 

The U.S. intelligence community was paying an extraordinary amount of attention to Israel in the 1970s, according to a retired CIA analyst I spoke with who studied the region at the time. The possible January 1976 Israeli chemical weapons test occurred a little more than two years after the end of the 1973 war, an event that had shocked the Israeli political and military establishment because it demonstrated for the first time that the Arab armies were now capable of going toe-to-toe on the battlefield with the Israeli military.

There were also a series of leaks in the U.S. press which quoted several intelligence officials from the CIA stating that Israel actually possessed nuclear weapons, a known but unspoken fact even to this day. Aid writes,

The leak was based on an authorized off-the-record briefing of newspaper reporters by a senior CIA official in Washington, who intimated to the reporters that Israel was also involved in other activities involving weapons of mass destruction, but refused to say anything further on the subject. The CIA official was likely referring to the agency’s belief that the Israelis may have conducted a chemical weapons test in January 1976. According to a declassified State Department cable, Israeli foreign minister Yigal Allon called in the U.S. ambassador to Israel and registered a strong protest about the story, reiterating the official Israeli government position that Israel did not possess nuclear weapons. After the protest, all further public mention of Israeli WMD activities ceased and the whole subject was quickly and quietly forgotten.

Still, the CIA kept an eye on what Israel was actually testing and experimenting with in the wastelands of the Negev desert. What was described as a “probable CW nerve agent production facility and a storage facility” was suspected to actually be located at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area.” Yet the CIA report does not describe exactly where this facility is located.

Aid, however, in compiling his report for Foreign Policy did a little digging of his own and managed to come up with a possible location for the facility. He writes,

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.

While Aid writes that it is unknown whether or not Israel maintains the stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, the fact is that if Israel did not continue to possess and maintain such weapons, it would be an abrupt change of position and procedure. Indeed, while Aid can only concede that the US 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,” Israel has given the international and intelligence community more than enough reason to believe that it does, in fact, possess these chemical and biological weapons. Aid himself writes that “the Israeli government has a well-known penchant for preserving any asset thought to be needed for the defense of the state of Israel, regardless of the cost or possible diplomatic ramifications.”

In fact, the list of Israeli usage of chemical weapons against Palestinians is quite long, going as far back as 1948 and as recently as at least 2004.

Regardless of the lack of information surrounding the location of the weapons facility and the actual knowledge the CIA or other government agencies may have of the Israeli chemical weapons agenda, one thing is clear – there will be no red lines drawn in the sand over this particular program.

RELATED ACTIVIST POST ARTICLE:
The ‘Legal Issue’ of Operation Cast Lead: ICC Rules That Palestinians Cannot Investigate Israeli War Crimes

Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

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