Syria WMD Stats


  • Biological: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of biological weapons of mass destruction
  • Chemical: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of chemical weapons of mass destruction
  • Missile: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of missile weapons of mass destruction
  • Nuclear: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of nuclear weapons
Biological There is very limited open-source information regarding Syria's biological warfare (BW) capability. German and Israeli sources have asserted that Syria possesses Bacillus anthracis (which causes anthrax), botulinum toxin, and ricin. Other independent assessments, however, maintain there is no evidence that the country has progressed past the research and development phase of a BW capability. Syria has a pharmaceutical infrastructure that could support a limited BW program, and it engages in extensive trade of dual-use equipment and goods with companies in Western Europe, Russia, and North Korea. Damascus ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1968 and signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) on April 14, 1972, but has yet to ratify it. 1972
Chemical Syria is suspected of having one of the most advanced chemical warfare (CW) capabilities in the Middle East and among developing countries worldwide. Syria allegedly received initial chemical warfare assistance and supplies, including weaponized chemical agents, from Egypt prior to the October War against Israel in 1973. Analysts claim that the country now has an indigenous capability to produce and weaponize nerve (e.g., sarin) and blister (e.g., mustard) agents. There are numerous highly inconsistent reports that Syria has successfully produced and weaponized VX nerve agent. There are some allegations that Syria received Russian assistance in developing this agent in the 1990s but these reports remain substantially unconfirmed in the open sources. Syria appears to remain dependent on the acquisition of imported dual-use technology, equipment and precursors. In the past Syria has acquired many of these items from various European countries and India. Despite the widespread belief that Syria has an active chemical weapons program it is still able to obtain access to many dual-use chemicals used by its oil and chemical industries. As export controls have tightened Syria has increasingly turned to imports from countries outside international export control regimes such as Egypt and North Korea for the provision of certain precursor chemicals. Syria is still able to meet many of its more general bulk chemical needs from its traditional European and Indian suppliers. Syria possesses Scud-B and Scud-C ballistic missiles capable of being fitted with chemical warheads, and in 1999 it allegedly tested a Scud-B carrying a warhead designed to disperse VX. The quality of Syrian weaponization efforts is not clear from open-sources and it remains unclear how effective the use of Scud missiles would be against Israeli defenses. In addition to this long range capability Syria is believed to possess a significant tactical chemical weapons capability centered around artillery shells and rockets. Open sources assert that there are at least three Syrian facilities currently engaged in producing CW, located near Damascus, Hama, and Safira village (in the Aleppo area). Beginning in early 2003 officials in the united States and Israel began to suggest that Syria had received shipments of chemical weapons and other WMD from Iraq. These allegations increased in frequency as the absence of WMD in Iraq became more apparent. To date the available information suggests that these allegations are at best speculative and at worst malicious. Given the claims that Syria has the most advanced CW capability in the middle-east it is difficult to find a convincing rationale for Syria receiving illicit Iraqi WMD stocks. Since late 2002 Syria has been confronted by an aggressive United States using WMD possession as a justification for pre-emptive military action. Since April 2003 Syria has been effectively surrounded by the United States and its allies and has come under increasing political and military pressures. Damascus ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1968, but so far has declined to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). In 2004 Syrian officials met with the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). In the absence of information on the content of the discussions the significance of this development remains unclear. 2004
Missile Syria's missile program began in the early 1970s as a means to counter Israel’s superior conventional military capabilities; since that time, the missile program has grown in tandem with the development of chemical weapons (CW). Syria now has one of the largest arsenals of ballistic missiles in the region, made up of hundreds of Scud-derived missile systems. In the 1970s and 1980s, Syria relied on Soviet technology and support for its missile program and imported the Soviet FROG-7, Scud-Bs, and the solid-fueled Scarab SS-21 missiles. In the 1990s, Syria looked to other states to supply it with missile technology and found willing partners in Iran and North Korea. Iran provided Syria with technical assistance for solid-fueled rocket motor production, while North Korea supplied it with equipment and technical assistance for liquid-fueled missile production. Syria, however, has had difficulty creating an indigenous production capability and has had to rely on continued imports from countries such as North Korea and China. Syria reportedly purchased 150 Scud-C missiles from North Korea in 1991. In September 2000, Syria tested a North Korean, 700 km-range Scud-D, revealing its commitment to expanding its missile capability. Syria is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). 2000
Nuclear Although the Israeli and U.S. governments have expressed concerns about Syrian nuclear weapons aspirations, there is little convincing evidence of such an objective. Syria signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 and ratified the document one year later; its 30 KW nuclear research reactor in Dayr al Jajar, provided by China, is under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In 1998, the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission began discussions with Russia about expanding its nuclear infrastructure, as prior negotiations with Argentina and China had proved unsuccessful. In May 1999, Moscow and Damascus signed an agreement in which the former will provide at least one light water nuclear reactor, which will be subject to IAEA safeguards. At this time, Syria has neither the infrastructure nor the financial resources to pursue an indigenous nuclear weapons program. Following revelations regarding the nuclear technology proliferation network of Pakistan's A.Q. Khan in 2003, some have evinced concern that Syria may have been a client. In a September 2004 interview, IAEA Secretary General ElBaradei stated that there are "no indications" of such a relationship. 2004


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