Tuesday, November 1, 2011

WMD's in Syria?

The bioweapon warning symbol
Is the reason that NATO and the Arab League tolerate the daily slaughter of Syrian protesters the existence of chemical and biological weapons in that country?  The thought crossed my mind recently while re-reading Richard Preston's The Cobra Event. (Published in 1998, it is not a book for the squeamish by the way.) Preston also wrote The Hot Zone, and did voluminous research for both projects, but his several references to Syria in TCE were hard to miss.  Last week's warning by Assad that the whole middle east would "burn" if outsiders interfered to help protesters may have been referring to his rogue nuclear program - but it seems like a strange choice of words, and might be construed as referring to means non-nuclear, but just as insidious.  WMD's took a real credibility hit, of course, after Bush and his neo-conservative wacko henchman Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Co. pressured the CIA to prepare highly speculative reports regarding Iraq's WMD capability (sucking Colin Powell and the UN Security Council in as well as the rest of us), but the fact remains that such weapons probably do exist in a handful of countries.  This, from globalsecurity.org: "Syria has a robust biotechnology infrastructure and [it] is ... highly probable that Syria also is developing an offensive BW [bioweapons] capability.  Nearly all assessments of this program point to Syria having difficulty producing biological weapons without significant outside assistance both in expertise and material.  A facility near Cerin is the only reported facility suspected as being used for the development of biological agents.  Syria is a signatory of the Biological Warfare Convention but has not ratified it."  And apparently they've been getting some help too: "American diplomatic cables revealed that Indian firms had aided Syrian chemical and biological weapons makers with obtaining equipment.  The cable reminded India that it "has a general obligation as a Chemical Weapons Convention State Party to never, under any circumstances, assist anyone in the development of chemical weapons".  I'm sure Syria sent their bioreactors, etc. back to India right away when they got that little rebuke from Uncle Sam!

The Good News:  The first light dusting of snow arrived yesterday but didn't last long!