International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation

By Gordon M. Burck; Charles C. Flowerree | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa is the most significant region in an analysis of chemical weapons proliferation for several reasons.

The greatest use of lethal CW agents since World War I has occurred there -- by Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War -- and, as of the cutoff date for information in this analysis, was threatening to occur again. Chemicals were also used by Egypt in Yemen, and charges have been made about Egyptian preparations for CW during the 1967 and 1973 wars.

If the estimate made by Major General William Burns as ACDA Director (see Chapter 3) -- that only five or six countries, other than the United States and USSR, have chemical stockpiles -- is correct, then excluding Iraq and France, there are no more than four strong contenders left. They are Syria, Iran, Libya, and Israel. But nearly every other country and non-state group in the region (as well as several bordering states to the south and east) is suspected of some involvement in a CW program.

The frequently cited interrelationship of nuclear and chemical weapons, as comparable weapons of mass destruction in national doctrine and as mutually deterring weapons, is most critical in this region -- with Arab chemical weapons confronting Israeli nuclear weapons. This was clearly articulated at the January 1989 Paris Conference1 and by the Iraqi president in April 1990.

The spread of long-range delivery systems -- ballistic missiles and airrefuelable bombers -- is most prevalent here. And CW protection is very difficult in this region, due to high temperatures and lack of water for both decontamination and drinking. Even the special clothing developed in particular by Britain and now by Thailand can only reduce heat degradation.

The analysis of CW affairs in this region is important for two further reasons. It shows the complications created by the several issues associated with CW but outside the scope of this analysis -- use of tear gas (in Israel), allegations of toxin warfare and the development of biological weapons, and the domestic use of lethal CW agents (by Iraq). Further, it shows the highly politicized and incon-

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