Libya, Syria closer to weapons of mass destruction

By WND Staff

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The United States believes Libya and Syria have accelerated their weapons of mass destruction programs and are making ”significant progress” in their efforts to amass and development biological and chemical weapons, reports Geostrategy, the global intelligence news
agency.

U.S. officials say both countries are also seeking missiles to deliver warheads containing those weapons.

Undersecretary of State John Bolton said Iraq and North Korea top the list of countries being monitored by the United States. Libya and Syria are in a second tier of countries of concern.

”The United States believes that Libya has an offensive bioweapons program in the research-and-development stage, and it may currently be capable of producing small quantities of biological agent,” Bolton said. ”It continues efforts to obtain ballistic missile-related equipment, materials, technology, and expertise from foreign sources.”

According to the Geostrategy report, Bolton did not identify those sources, but other officials cited China, Iran, North Korea and Russia.

The Libyan missile and weapons of mass destruction programs were revived after the United Nations suspended sanctions in 1999. The U.N. action led to the renewal of contacts with both Eastern and Western suppliers.

”We are persuaded that Libya is continuing its longstanding pursuit
of nuclear weapons, and the suspension of U.N. sanctions against it has increased its access to nuclear-related materials and equipment,” Bolton said.

Syria also is believed to have expanded its chemical weapons programs and launched development of biological agents. China, Iran, Russia and North Korea are key suppliers of those weapons programs, according to intelligence reports.

”Syria, through foreign assistance, is seeking to expand its chemical weapons program, which includes a stockpile of nerve agent,” Bolton said. ”We believe that it is developing biological weapons and is able to produce at least small amounts of biological warfare agents.”

Bolton said North Korea and ”firms in Russia” are also helping Syria’s missile programs. They include the Scud C short-range and Scud D medium-range missiles. Syria has also become a major shipment point for goods and technology going to Iraq, he said.

Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas recently toured the Russian missile cruiser Moscow, which visited the port of Latakia. Tlas was briefed by Russian naval officers on the naval vessel’s capabilities.

”A growing concern is that cooperation among proliferators is increasing, recipients have become suppliers, and this onward proliferation presents yet another difficult problem,” Bolton said.

”It is on these rogue regimes in particular that United States and its partners in multilateral nonproliferation agreements must focus a watchful eye.”

Earlier, Missile Defense Agency director Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish warned that Iran, Iraq and Libya were seeking intermediate-range and long-range missile capability.

”It’s about North Korea. It’s about Iraq. It’s about Iran. It’s about Libya and others that might threaten us,” Kadish said. ”They are making significant progress. And they are moving from a
capability of having very good systems in the short-range missiles to the intermediate- and longer-range missiles. That’s the trend.”

But Kadish said Tripoli has fallen short of U.S. assessments in advancing its missile programs. He suggests Libya might buy
complete systems rather than develop missiles.

”I will say this, they have enough money to buy it,” Kadish said.


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