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Jane’s: Syria Will Produce VX Gas

July 2, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ Syria is preparing to produce deadly VX nerve agent, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported, quoting Israeli intelligence estimates.

The respected military magazine said in a Tel Aviv-dated story Wednesday that Syria is already able to produce other chemical agents ``and is set to locally produce quantities of the VX chemical agent.″

Israeli officials have previously accused Russia of helping Syria acquire chemical weapons, including VX, which is so potent that a single drop can be deadly.

Israel has long been concerned that Syria might put VX or other chemical agents in missiles capable of hitting the Jewish state.

According to Jane’s, previous attempts by Syria and Libya to produce quantities of VX locally were strongly opposed, and both countries were forced to call off their activities as a result of international military and political pressure.

Last week, chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler told the Security Council that U.S. Army scientists have found traces of VX nerve gas in Iraqi warheads from the 1990-91 Gulf conflict. He has asked Swiss and French laboratories for confirmation.

Iraq has admitted producing VX, but denied that it used it in weapons.

If the test results are confirmed, Iraq is likely to face stiff opposition from the United States and Britain in its campaign to get the Security Council to lift economic sanctions. Those sanctions were imposed in 1990 after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s troops invaded Kuwait, touching off the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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