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November 1998 
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MER - Washington - 7 November 1998:

The country that has the tremendous arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is not Iraq, but Israel. The country that has the greatest record of defying the U.N. Security Council and the world community is not Iraq, but Israel. The country history will hold responsible for initiating and fueling the arms race in the Middle East more than any other is not Arab or Muslim, but rather the Jewish State of Israel.

In addition to the weapons themselves, serious nuclear pollution is spreading from Israel's nuclear plant at Dimona in the Negev. Satellite pictures soon to be shown on television in Arab countries will highlight this threatening situation.

The following recent article from the Sunday Times in London, the same newspaper that broke wide open Israel's nuclear weapons story in the 1980s, resulting in the kidnapping and imprisonment of Mordechai Vanunu, tells part of today's story. In addition to its considerable nuclear arsenal of hundreds of weapons, the Israelis are also preparing chemical and biological weapons, explaining why other countries in the region feel such pressures to develope similar weapons of their own.


by Uzi Mahnaimi

[The Sunday Times, London, 10/4]: ISRAELI assault aircraft have been equipped to carry chemical and biological weapons manufactured at a top secret institute near Tel Aviv, military sources revealed yesterday.Crews of F-16 fighters have been trained to fit an active chemical or biological weapon within minutes of receiving the command to attack, they said.

The weapons are manufactured at the Institute for Biological Research in a suburb of Nes Ziona 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv.

The plant attracted unwanted scrutiny last week when the Dutch authorities confirmed that it was the intended destination of 42 gallons of a chemical called DMMP aboard an El Al 747-200 that crashed into high-rise flats in Amsterdam six years ago, killing the four crew and 39 people on the ground. The chemical is used in the manufacture of sarin nerve gas, and local inhabitants have complained of health problems since the crash.

The Israeli plant manufactures not only chemical and biologicalweapons for use in bombs, but more unusual arms as well. It supplied the poison for a bizarre attempt last year on the life of Khaled Meshal, a leader of the Hamas Islamic fundamentalist group.

Agents of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, sprayed a liquid into his ear as he arrived at his office in Amman, the Jordanian capital. If one of Meshal's bodyguards had not chased and caught the agents, the mysterious chemical would have caused Meshal to die within days of apparent heart failure. Instead, the institute was forced to supply an antidote when King Hussein of Jordan threatened to put the captured Israelis on trial.

Israel has accused Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iran of developing chemical and biological weapons, but has never acknowledged its own programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The Jewish state signed but never ratified the chemical weapons convention, a treaty that prohibits countries from developing, producing, stockpiling or using such weapons. The Israeli programme for weapons has been an open secret for years.

"There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon . . . which is not manufactured at the institute," said a biologist who once held a senior post in Israeli intelligence.

The institute is one of the most secretive in Israel. Founded in1952 as a single building hidden in an orange grove, it now sprawls over several acres. It is surrounded by a 6ft-high concrete wall topped with sensors that reveal the exact location of any intruder but is erased from local and aerial survey maps.

Official publications disguise its more sinister activities, indicating merely that the institute provides services to the defence ministry as well as chemicals for agriculture and research for civilian companies.

Following rumours about risks to the neighbourhood from toxins, members of the parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee asked to visit the plant. They were denied access.

Nes Ziona's mayor won a temporary injunction last week freezing plans to expand the institute by 14 acres. His anxiety is well-founded. Accidents at the plant have killed at least six workers but details have been protected by military censorship.




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