A U.S.-Russian plan to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons has prompted Syria and Iran to point to Israel’s reputed chemical stockpile, but Israeli officials have dismissed suggestions that they give an accounting of their country’s capabilities.
Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the production or use of chemical weapons, in 1993, but it has not ratified it. Ratification would require Israel to declare such weapons it has held in the past, destroy any weapons it might currently possess, and allow inspection of suspected weapons production sites.
In line with a policy of ambiguity regarding Israel’s reported nuclear and chemical capabilities, Israeli officials have argued that neighboring states, such as Egypt and Syria, have not signed the chemical weapons pact and that their country faces existential threats that must be deterred.
“There are countries in the region that want to destroy Israel, so we have held off on ratification,” said one official, who was not authorized to speak by name.
“As a matter of strategic concept, as long as Egypt and, more importantly, Iran possess chemical and biological weapons, there will be no change in the Israeli position,” said Dany Shoham, an expert on such weapons at Bar-Ilan University.