U.S. goals in the Middle East and North Africa include securing a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace between Israel and all Arab parties; maintaining a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and well-being; building and maintaining security arrangements that assure the stability of the Gulf region and unimpeded commercial access to its petroleum reserves; combating terrorism; ensuring fair access for American business to commercial opportunities in the region; and promoting more open political and economic systems and respect for human rights and the rule of law. In this volatile region, the proliferation of NBC weapons and the means to deliver them poses a significant challenge to the ability of the United States to achieve these goals. Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, which are aggressively seeking NBC weapons and increased missile capabilities, constitute the most pressing threats to regional stability.

Iran is actively attempting to acquire or produce a full range of NBC weapons and missiles. The United States believes Iran is committed to acquiring nuclear weapons, either through indigenous development or by covertly acquiring enough fissile material to produce them. During its eight-year war with Iraq, Tehran initiated biological and chemical warfare programs, the latter in direct response to Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. In addition, Iran is expanding its ballistic missile programs.

Iraq has long had NBC weapons and missile efforts. The challenges these weapons pose in time of conflict became clear during the Gulf War, when U.S. and allied forces had to deal with real and potential complications posed by Iraq’s arsenal of NBC weapons and missiles. Iraq entered the Gulf War with a known chemical warfare capability and a demonstrated willingness to use it (Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian troops and its Kurdish population during the 1980s); a known biological warfare capability; and a developing, complex nuclear weapons program despite intense nonproliferation and export control efforts by the United States and the international community (for example, the IAEA). During the Gulf War, Iraq attempted to weaken the cohesion and resolve of the U.S.-led coalition by using its ballistic missiles as weapons of terror against Saudi Arabia and Israel. Iraq did not use its SCUDs with chemical or biological warheads, even though it had the capability to do so.

Iran and Iraq have each demonstrated their intent to dominate the Gulf and to control access to critical oil supplies. In their pursuit of regional hegemony, Iran and Iraq probably regard NBC weapons and missiles as necessary to support their political and military objectives. Possession of nuclear weapons would likely lead to increased intimidation of their Gulf neighbors, as well as increased willingness to confront the United States.

Libya remains a significant proliferation concern. Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi has shown that he is willing and capable of using chemical weapons and missiles against his enemies. Libya sees the United States as its primary external threat, owing especially to U.S. support for United Nations sanctions against Tripoli for its refusal to turn over suspects in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103. Although Libya’s capabilities to use chemical agents and missiles are limited, Qadhafi could provide these weapons to states or terrorist groups he supports and that support him in return.

Syria possesses a substantial force of ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets throughout Israel and has an active chemical weapons program. Syria views Israel as its primary external threat and sees its chemical weapons and ballistic missiles as means to counter Israel’s conventional superiority.

The U.S. defense commitment, military presence, and demonstrated ability to defend U.S. and allied interests against such threats are vital to achieving U.S. goals in the region.



The Middle East and North Africa have the highest concentration of emerging NBC weapons and missile programs of any region in the world. This region also has a long history of conflict based on territorial disputes as well as ethnic, cultural, and religious rivalries. While intense negotiating efforts over the past two decades have resulted in a number of positive steps toward a comprehensive peace settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, at the present time virtually every major power in the region retains at least one of these dangerous programs. NBC weapons or missiles have been acquired through direct purchase, domestic development, or a combination of the two.

There are several dangerous trends in the Middle East and North Africa regarding NBC weapons and missiles. Several states, including Iran, Iraq, and Libya, have employed chemical weapons, ballistic, or anti-ship cruise missiles within the last 10 years. Several states have developed, or are attempting to develop, NBC warheads for their missiles. Iraq is a case in point, having admitted, after the Gulf War, to possession of operational chemical and biological missile warheads.

Further, many states are seeking some measure of production self-sufficiency for one or more types of NBC weapons and their means of delivery. This trend is dangerous because as states become self-sufficient, they become less susceptible to outside pressure. In addition, they become potential suppliers themselves and could provide weapons to other proliferant states.



Iran’s national objectives and strategies are shaped by its regional political aspirations, threat perceptions, and the need to preserve its Islamic government. Tehran strives to be a leader in the Islamic world and seeks to be the dominant power in the Gulf. The latter goal brings it into conflict with the United States. Tehran would like to diminish Washington’s political and military influence in the region. Iran also remains hostile to the ongoing Middle East peace process and supports the use of terrorism as an element of policy. Within the framework of its national goals, Iran continues to give high priority to expanding its NBC weapons and missile programs. In addition, Iran’s emphasis on pursuing independent production capabilities for NBC weapons and missiles is driven by its experience during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, during which it was unable to respond adequately to Iraqi chemical and missile attacks and suffered the effects of an international arms embargo.

Iran perceives that it is located in a volatile and dangerous region, virtually surrounded by potential military threats or unstable neighbors. These include the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, Israel, U.S. security agreements with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and accompanying U.S. military presence in the Gulf, and instability in Afghanistan and the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union.

Iran still views Baghdad as the primary regional threat to the Islamic Republic, even though Iraq suffered extensive damage during the Gulf War. Further, Iran is not convinced that Iraq’s NBC programs will be adequately restrained or eliminated through continued UN sanctions or monitoring. Instead, the Iranians believe that they will face yet another challenge from their historical rival.

Tehran is concerned about strong U.S. ties with the GCC states because these states have received substantial amounts of modern Western conventional arms, which Tehran seeks but cannot acquire, and because U.S. security guarantees make these states less susceptible to Iranian pressure. While Tehran probably does not believe GCC nations have offensive designs against the Islamic Republic, it may be concerned that the United States will increase mistrust between Iran and the Arab states. It also likely fears that the sizable U.S. military presence in the region could lead to an attack against Iran. Iran may also be concerned by Israel’s strategic projection capabilities and its potential to strike Iran in a variety of ways. For all these reasons, Tehran probably views NBC weapons and the ability to deliver them with missiles as decisive weapons for battlefield use, as deterrents, and as effective means for political intimidation of less powerful neighboring states.

In recent years, Iran’s weak economy has limited the development of its NBC weapons and missile programs, although oil price increases in 1996 may have relieved the pressure at least temporarily. Tehran’s international debt exceeds $30 billion, although Iran is meeting its debt repayment obligations. Iran also is facing a rapidly growing population which will exact greater future demands from its limited economy. Despite these internal problems, Iran assigns a high priority to attaining production self-sufficiency for NBC weapons and missiles. Therefore, funding for these efforts is likely to be a high priority for the next several years.

Tehran has attempted to portray U.S. containment efforts as unjust, in an attempt to convince European or Asian suppliers to relax export restrictions on key technologies. At the same time, foreign suppliers must consider the risk of sanctions or political embarrassment because of U.S.-led containment efforts.


Iran’s nuclear program, focusing on electric power production, began during the 1970s under the Shah. Research and development efforts also were conducted on fissile material production, although these efforts were halted during the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. However, the program has been restarted, possibly in reaction to the revelations about the scope of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.


Nuclear Attempting to acquire fissile material for weapons development.

Chinese and Russian supply policies are key to Iran’s success; Russia has agreed to build power reactor.

Ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Chemical Employed chemical agents on limited scale during Iran-Iraq war.

Produces chemical agents and is capable of use on limited scale.

Seeking future independent production capability; Chinese assistance will be critical to Iran’s success.

Ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Biological Possesses expertise and infrastructure to support biological warfare program.

May have small quantities of agent available; seeking larger capability.

Ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Ballistic Missiles Maintains and is capable of using SCUD B/Cs and CSS-8s.

Produces SCUDs with North Korean help.

Seeks to produce longer range missiles (1,000 kilometers or more).

Not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Other Means Of Delivery Available Land-, sea, and air-launched anti-ship cruise missiles; air-launched tactical missiles; none have NBC warheads.

Aircraft (fighters).

Ground systems (artillery, rocket launchers).

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Iran is trying to acquire fissile material to support development of nuclear weapons and has set up an elaborate system of military and civilian organizations to support its effort. Barring outright acquisition of a nuclear weapon from a foreign source, Iran could pursue several other avenues for weapon development. The shortest route, depending on weapon design, could be to purchase or steal fissile material. Also, Iran could attempt to produce highly enriched uranium if it acquired the appropriate facilities for the front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Finally, Iran could pursue development of an entire fuel cycle, which would allow for long-term production of plutonium, similar to the route North Korea followed.

Iran does not yet have the necessary infrastructure to support a nuclear weapons program, although is actively negotiating for purchase of technologies and whole facilities to support all of the above strategies. Iran claims it is trying to establish a complete nuclear fuel cycle to support a civilian energy program, but this same fuel cycle would be applicable to a nuclear weapons development program. Iran is seeking foreign sources for many elements of the nuclear fuel cycle. Chinese and Russian supply policies are key to whether Iran will successfully acquire the needed technology, expertise, and infrastructure to manufacture the fissile material for a weapon and the ability to fashion a usable device. Russian or Chinese supply of nuclear power reactors, allowed by the NPT, could enhance Iran’s limited nuclear infrastructure and advance its nuclear weapons program.


Iran has had a chemical weapons production program since early in the Iran-Iraq war. It used chemical agents to respond to Iraqi chemical attacks on several occasions during that war. Since the early 1990s, it has put a high priority on its chemical weapons program because of its inability to respond in kind to Iraq’s chemical attacks and the discovery of substantial Iraqi efforts with advanced agents, such as the highly persistent nerve agent VX. Iran ratified the CWC, under which it will be obligated to eliminate its chemical program over a period of years. Nevertheless, it continues to upgrade and expand its chemical warfare production infrastructure and munitions arsenal.

Iran manufactures weapons for blister, blood, and choking agents; it is also believed to be conducting research on nerve agents. Iran has a stockpile of these weapons, including artillery shells and bombs, which could be used in another conflict in the region.

Although Iran is making a concerted effort to attain an independent production capability for all aspects of its chemical weapons program, it remains dependent on foreign sources for chemical warfare-related technologies. China is an important supplier of technologies and equipment for Iran’s chemical warfare program. Therefore, Chinese supply policies will be key to whether Tehran attains its long-term goal of independent production for these weapons.


Iran’s biological warfare program began during the Iran-Iraq war. The pace of the program probably has increased because of the 1995 revelations about the scale of Iraqi efforts prior to the Gulf War. The relative low cost of developing these weapons may be another motivating factor. Although this program is in the research and development stage, the Iranians have considerable expertise with pharmaceuticals, as well as the commercial and military infrastructure needed to produce basic biological warfare agents. Iran also can make some of the hardware needed to manufacture agents. Therefore, while only small quantities of usable agent may exist now, within 10 years, Iran’s military forces may be able to deliver biological agents effectively. Iran has ratified the BWC.


Iran has an ambitious missile program, with SCUD B, SCUD C, and CSS-8 (a Chinese surface-to-surface missile derived from a surface-to-air missile) missiles in its inventory. Having first acquired SCUD missiles from Libya and North Korea for use during the Iran-Iraq war, the Iranians are now able to produce the missile themselves. This has been accomplished with considerable equipment and technical help from North Korea. Iran has made significant progress in the last few years toward its goal of becoming self-sufficient in ballistic missile production.

Iran produces the solid-propellant 150 kilometer range Nazeat 10 and 200 kilometer range Zelzal unguided rockets. Iran also is trying to produce a relatively short-range solid-propellant missile. For the longer term, Iran’s goal is to establish the capability to produce medium range ballistic missiles to expand its regional influence. It is attempting to acquire production infrastructure to enable it to produce the missiles itself. Like many of Iran’s other efforts, success with future missile capabilities will depend on key equipment and technologies from China, North Korea, and Russia.

Iran’s missiles allow it to strike a wide variety of key economic and military targets in several neighboring countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf states. Possible targets include oil installations, airfields, and ports, as well as U.S. military deployment areas in the region. All of Iran’s missiles are on mobile launchers, which enhance their survivability. Should Iran succeed in acquiring or developing a longer range missile like the North Korean No Dong, it could threaten an even broader area, including much of Israel.

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Iran has purchased land-, sea, and air-launched short range cruise missiles from China; it also has a variety of foreign-made air-launched short range tactical missiles. Many of these systems are deployed as anti-ship weapons in or near the Gulf. Iran also has a variety of Western and Soviet-made fighter aircraft, artillery, and rockets available as potential means of delivery for NBC weapons.


In the future, as Iran becomes more self-sufficient at producing chemical or biological agents and ballistic missiles, there is a potential that it will become a supplier. For example, Iran might supply related equipment and technologies to other states trying to develop capabilities, such as Libya or Syria. There is precedent for such action; Iran supplied Libya with chemical agents in 1987.



Saddam Hussein appears to retain the same national objectives as prior to his defeat in the Gulf War. These include establishing Iraq as the leading Arab political and military power and as the dominant power in the Gulf region. The Iraqi leadership also retains its territorial aspirations on Kuwait and the Shatt al Arab waterway and remains opposed to the Middle East peace process. However, Iraq’s ability to achieve its goals is limited by a weak economy and continuing UN sanctions.

UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 687, in force since 1991, calls for Iraq to eliminate its NBC weapons and missiles and forbids it from developing, producing, or possessing any NBC weapons or missiles with ranges greater than 150 kilometers. However, Saddam Hussein’s government endeavors to conceal and protect these weapons and related equipment, technology, or documentation from UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) inspections and monitoring. Its actions against UNSCOM in the fall of 1997 are further evidence of this policy.

The August 1995 defection of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, caused the Iraqi ruler to release a large cache of documents which the Iraqis previously claimed did not exist. These disclosures revealed many more extensive NBC weapons and missile efforts than Iraq had previously admitted. These efforts included an intensive 1990 crash program to develop a nuclear device using IAEA safeguarded nuclear fuel, the manufacture of advanced chemical agents (i.e., VX), a very sizable biological agent production and weaponization program, and a sophisticated missile production and testing program.

In addition to Iraqi noncompliance with UNSCR 687, other activities during the last several years show that Iraq has expended considerable resources rebuilding, and in some cases expanding, facilities previously dedicated to its chemical and biological weapon or missile programs. In addition, Iraq is believed to retain documentation, some equipment, and substantial expertise to provide a basis for renewed efforts. Iraq has also continued covert procurement efforts, attempting to acquire a variety of technologies prohibited under UN resolutions. All these actions indicate Iraq’s clear intent to rebuild its NBC weapons and missile programs, should UN sanctions and monitoring end or be substantially reduced.


Nuclear Suffered considerable damage from Coalition bombing and IAEA monitoring; all fissile material removed.

Retains considerable expertise (scientists); possibly hidden some documentation, infrastructure.

Could manufacture fissile material for nuclear device in 5 or more years, if sanctions were lifted, or substantially reduced, and considerable foreign assistance provided.

Ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Chemical Suffered considerable damage from Coalition bombing and UNSCOM destruction.

Probably has hidden precursor chemicals, agents, munitions, documentation for future effort; has rebuilt key portions of production facilities for commercial use.

Could restart agent production and have small usable stockpile in several months, if sanctions and monitoring were lifted or substantially reduced.

Has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Biological Prior to Operation Desert Storm, had largest and most advanced program in Middle East.

Despite Coalition bombing, UNSCOM destruction, and UN sanctions and monitoring, Iraq may retain elements of its old program, including some missile warheads.

Could restart some limited agent production quickly, if sanctions and monitoring were lifted or substantially reduced.

Ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Ballistic Missiles Suffered considerable damage from Coalition bombing and UNSCOM destruction.

Allowed to maintain 150-kilometer missile program (Ababil) under UNSCR 687; likely using this effort to support future long range missile effort.

Continues to conceal a number of SCUD missiles and launchers.

Could restart limited missile production within one year, if sanctions and monitoring were lifted or substantially reduced.

Not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Other Means of Delivery Available Land-launched anti-ship cruise missiles; air-launched tactical missiles; none have NBC warheads; stockpile likely is very limited.

Aircraft (fighters, helicopters).

Ground systems (artillery, rockets).


Iraq has an international debt of about $100 billion, including debt to Arab states, and owes reparation payments of at least $100 billion. Gross domestic product is estimated at about $18 billion for 1996, about a third that of 1989, with imports down to 10-15 percent of pre-war levels. The UN allows Iraq to export up to $2 billion of oil every six months. Some of the revenue from these sales can be used to fund humanitarian imports. A new resolution must be passed every six months for this program to continue. (UNSCR 986, implemented in December 1996, and UNSCR 1111, implemented in June 1997, are the first two of these resolutions; a third will be required at the end of 1997 for the program to continue.)

Despite these ongoing economic conditions, the related shortages, and UN inspections and monitoring, the Iraqi government continues to devote scarce resources to rebuilding key portions of its chemical and missile industries, including entire facilities, further evidence of Iraqi intentions for the future.


Iraq’s nuclear weapons program suffered a very significant setback both from the Gulf War bombing of nuclear-related facilities and IAEA monitoring since the war. All fissile material was removed from Iraq by the IAEA, but considerable expertise (scientists and technicians) and possibly some documentation and infrastructure, survived. Disclosures in 1991 revealed that Iraq had explored virtually all the viable uranium enrichment techniques; 1995 disclosures revealed a crash program to build a weapon, which was curtailed by the war.

Since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq may have conducted research on nuclear weapons, although UNSCR 687 prohibits this type of research. In late 1996, former Director of the IAEA, Hans Blix, publicly expressed concern that, although the actual weapon production and research apparatus had been destroyed, "The know-how and expertise acquired by Iraqi scientists and engineers could provide an adequate basis for reconstituting a nuclear weapon-based program." He added, "A continuing high-level of vigilance is therefore necessary." He requested a broader scope for the UN monitoring regime, to include universities and research facilities not declared as nuclear-associated and thus not within IAEA’s current purview.

Baghdad retains the scientists needed to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program when conditions permit. Iraq, however, does not currently possess the necessary infrastructure to produce the fissile material for a nuclear weapon and would have to rely heavily on foreign assistance and supplies for any post-UN sanction nuclear weapons effort. Even so, it would take Iraq five or more years on its own to manufacture the fissile material for a nuclear weapon. This is why the United States has concerns that Iraq would seize any opportunity to purchase fissile material or nuclear technology.


The Iraqis had a wide variety of chemical warfare agents available before the Gulf War, including blister (mustard) and nerve (tabun and sarin) agents, as well as several means of delivery, including artillery, rockets, mortars, spray tanks, aerial bombs and SCUD-type missiles. Although Iraq’s chemical warfare program suffered extensive damage from Coalition bombing during the Gulf War and from UNSCOM destruction and monitoring activities after the war, Iraq retains a limited ability to reconstitute its chemical warfare program. Equally important, Iraq retains the technical knowledge to reconstitute and improve the chemical warfare capability it had prior to the Gulf War. Information released as a result of Hussein Kamel’s defection revealed that Iraq had hidden from the UN other more sophisticated chemical warfare capabilities which had not heretofore been discussed, despite the intrusive UNSCOM inspections. These included:

A program to develop the nerve agent VX begun in May 1985 and continued without interruption until December 1990.

Production of large amounts of precursors sufficient to produce 400 tons of VX per year.

Development of a binary sarin-filled artillery round, as well as rockets and aerial bombs in quantities well beyond prototype level.

Testing of an Al Hussein variant of the SCUD missile with a chemical warhead and a range of 600-650 km.

The depth and breadth of Iraq’s previous chemical warfare efforts, the rebuilding of key facilities since 1991, and the consistent pattern of trying to deceive UNSCOM about the scope of its previous efforts and remaining capabilities clearly indicate Iraq’s intent to rebuild this capability, should it be given the opportunity.

Iraq has rebuilt key portions of its chemical production infrastructure for industrial and commercial use. The facilities are currently subject to UN scrutiny, but they could be converted fairly quickly, allowing Iraq to restart limited agent production. Even though some foreign assistance for equipment and material would be required for all but a minimum effort, Iraq would need several months to produce a usable stockpile of agents and several years to return to pre-Gulf War stockpile levels.





Untreated Effect

Botulinum toxin Weakness, gastro-intestinal distress Respiratory paralysis; lethal
Anthrax Flu-like respiratory distress, fever Respiratory failure; lethal
Aflatoxin Headache, jaundice, gastro-intestinal distress Liver disease, internal bleeding; often lethal


During the 1980s, Iraq developed the largest and most advanced biological warfare program in the Middle East. A variety of biological agents were studied, including bacteria, viruses, and fungal toxins. Anthrax, botulinum, and aflatoxin were declared to be weaponized. The Iraqis maintained that the projects to manufacture weapons using viral agents were unsuccessful but the 1995 defection of Hussein Kamel revealed otherwise.

Coalition air strikes destroyed or damaged many of Iraq’s biological warfare facilities, including those at Al Kindi and Salman Pak. However, before Coalition operations began, the Iraqis had relocated virtually all of their agent production equipment to Al Hakam and other facilities and had buried all biological agent-filled munitions and agent stockpiles in areas likely to escape bombing. In June 1996, all bioproduction equipment at the Al Hakam facility and some equipment at Daura facility were destroyed and the Al Hakam facility was razed.

Iraq claims that all biological agents and munitions were unilaterally destroyed after the Gulf War. However, Iraq’s record of misrepresentation and the lack of documentation to support these claims leave the status of Iraqi biological warfare stockpile in doubt. Iraq may still retain some biological agents and weapons. It also has a number of medical, veterinary, and university facilities where biotechnical research and development can be carried out. Some of these facilities likely are staffed by former members of Iraq’s biological warfare program. Much of the laboratory equipment is dual-use and could be used for biological agent development.

Like its other programs, Iraq clearly intends to reestablish its biological warfare effort. It is well positioned to do this because of the assets it retains and could resume limited agent production fairly quickly, if UN sanctions and monitoring end.


Like its other programs, Iraq’s ballistic missile efforts suffered severe damage from Coalition bombing during the Gulf War and from destruction activity by UN inspectors after the war. However, Iraq has rebuilt substantial portions of its missile production infrastructure. The 1995 disclosures revealed a much broader and more sophisticated missile effort, raising serious questions about the number of missiles and missile launchers Iraq had hidden but claimed it had destroyed. These disclosures revealed:

1990 testing activity with SCUD missile warheads filled with sarin nerve agent.

Research and testing of more energetic liquid propellants.

Significant design studies for advanced rocket engines for use with extended range missiles.

Research of a missile design intended to deliver a nuclear weapon.


Production Locations Al Hakam.

Daura Foot and Mouth Disease Institute.


Salman Pak.

Biological Warfare
Agents Produced
19,000 liters of botulinum toxin.

8,500 liters of anthrax.

2,400 liters of aflatoxin.

Testing Field trials of anthrax and botulinum toxin using aerial bombs.

Effects on animals observed—March 1988.

Live firings of 122-mm rockets with agent-May 1990.

Weaponization Begun on large scale in December 1990.

Aerial bombs—166 filled with biological warfare agent.

SCUD missile warheads—25 filled with biological warfare agent.

Efforts made in December 1990 to modify spray tanks to deliver 2,000 liters of anthrax; planned for use on aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft; not successful.

Biological weapons deployed to operational delivery sites in December 1990.


In 1996, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus publicly stated several times that Iraq continues to conceal a number of SCUD missiles. He also expressed concern that Iraq may be hiding chemical and biological warheads for these missiles.

Despite sanctions, Iraq continues to seize any opportunity to advance its missile program. In late 1995, Jordanian authorities intercepted a shipment of sophisticated Russian-produced missile guidance instruments bound for Iraq. Much of Iraq’s post-Gulf War missile activity is conducted under the auspices of the Ababil program. This program is developing solid- and liquid-propellant missiles with ranges of less than 150 kilometers, an activity allowed under UNSCR 687. UNSCOM is concerned, however, about the growing evidence that Iraq is using this program to maintain a knowledge base to support future development of long range missiles.

It is clear from its actions that Iraq fully intends to reestablish and broaden its ballistic missile program should UN sanctions and monitoring end or be substantially reduced. Iraq could start initial production efforts within one year. It would take considerably longer for Iraq to return to its pre-Gulf War capabilities.


Iraq may have a very limited stockpile of land-launched short range anti-ship cruise missiles and air-launched short range tactical missiles that it purchased from China and France prior to the Gulf War. It also has a variety of fighter aircraft, helicopters, artillery, and rockets available as potential means of delivery for NBC weapons, although only a limited number of these systems likely are operational due to the effects of the UN arms embargo.



Libyan leader Qadhafi is a leading advocate of Pan-Arabism and views himself as a revolutionary voice for developing countries and defender against Western imperialism and Zionist influences. His ideology has led to numerous unsuccessful attempts to form unions with other Arab states, support to insurgent and opposition movements in developing countries, and an extended period of confrontation with the United States and, more recently, the United Nations. Although Qadhafi has retreated from supporting subversion, destabilization, and terrorism in hopes of having the UN sanctions against Libya lifted, Libya has retained a significant infrastructure to support terrorist activities against Western interests.

Qadhafi’s major limiting factor is Libya’s lack of a sufficient technological infrastructure to support domestic development of NBC weapons and missiles. All Libyan programs must rely on significant infusions of foreign equipment, technology, and expertise. Only Libya’s chemical warfare program has made any demonstrable progress developing facilities capable of supporting large-scale indigenous programs.

Despite ongoing UN embargoes and an unsettled domestic situation, Qadhafi supports development of NBC weapons and missile capabilities. His view apparently is that these weapons can advance his international position, can serve as deterrents against the West’s sophisticated weaponry, can be used to intimidate neighboring states, and can serve as cheaper alternatives to more expensive conventional systems.

In addition to an inadequate infrastructure, Libya has serious economic problems that threaten the regime and complicate its long-term goal of establishing domestic production capabilities. Libya’s economic problems result from insufficient economic development outside the oil sector, economic and financial mismanagement, the absence of private enterprise, and corruption.


Nuclear Has long standing goal of acquiring or developing a nuclear weapon.

Suffers from mismanagement; little foreign assistance.

Ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Signed the African Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

Chemical Employed chemical agents against Chadian troops in 1987.

Produced blister and nerve agents in 1980s at Rabta.

Began construction of underground chemical agent production facility at Tarhunah.

Has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Biological Lacks scientific and technical base.

Remains in research and development stage.

Ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Ballistic Missiles Fired SCUD missiles at an Italian island in 1987.

Maintains aging SCUD B force but remains capable of limited missile use.

Has made little progress acquiring or developing long range missiles.

Not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Other Means of Delivery Available Land- and sea-launched anti-ship cruise missiles; none have NBC warheads.

Aircraft (fighters, bombers, helicopters, transport planes).

Ground systems (artillery, rocket launchers).


The Libyan economy also suffers from years of socialist-oriented policies and the use of financial resources for unnecessarily large inventories of conventional weapons and other large projects. Despite its economic problems and associated internal unrest, funds for Libya’s NBC and missile programs probably will remain adequate to support continued research and development.


Over the years, Libya’s nuclear program’s progress has suffered from mismanagement, lack of spare parts, and the reluctance of foreign suppliers to provide assistance, particularly since the UN embargo went into effect in 1992. However, Qadhafi has not abandoned his goal of acquiring a nuclear weapon. He will no doubt continue to try to develop a Libyan nuclear weapons infrastructure by whatever means available.

Despite a 25-year effort to acquire or develop a nuclear weapon, Libya’s nuclear program remains in the embryonic stage. It has succeeded only in providing some training to a number of students and technicians and the establishment of a nuclear research center, which includes a small nuclear research reactor under IAEA safeguards. This facility, located at Tajura, southeast of Tripoli, was provided by the former Soviet Union. As noted in press reports, however, recent discussions between Libya and Russia indicate possible renewed Russian support for Libya’s nuclear effort at Tajura, including refurbishment and long-term maintenance. Since it is unlikely that Tripoli could produce a weapon without significant and sustained foreign technical assistance, Qadhafi reportedly is trying to recruit nuclear scientists to assist in developing nuclear weapons.


Libya has had the most success with its chemical warfare program. During the 1980s, it succeeded in producing up to 100 tons of blister and nerve agent at its Rabta facility, built with foreign assistance. After intense media attention was focused on the facility, it was closed in 1990, although the Libyans announced its reopening in September 1995 as a pharmaceutical facility. The Rabta facility remains capable of producing chemical agents.


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After the media attention at Rabta, Libya shifted its emphasis to construction of an underground chemical warfare facility at Tarhunah, southeast of Tripoli. In response to international attention, Qadhafi claimed that Tarhunah was part of the Great Manmade River Project, a nationwide irrigation effort.

Qadhafi has not given up the goal of establishing his own offensive chemicals weapons capability and Libya continues to pursue an independent production capability for the weapons. Qadhafi is not likely to sign or ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. However, Libya remains heavily dependent on foreign suppliers for precursor chemicals and other key equipment. UN sanctions have severely limited that support. Finally, while Libya’s ability to deliver any of its existing stockpile of chemical agents is not great, the threat to Egypt, U.S. forces in the region, or NATO cannot be dismissed out of hand.


While Libya has had a biological warfare program for many years, it remains in the early research and development stages, primarily because Libya lacks an adequate scientific and technical base. The program also suffers from the difficulty Libya has acquiring needed foreign equipment and technical expertise, partly due to current UN sanctions. However, Libya is trying to develop an indigenous capability and may be able to produce laboratory quantities of agent. Given the overall limitations of the program, it is unlikely that Libya will be able to transition from laboratory work to production of militarily useful quantities of biological warfare agent until well after the turn of the century. Libya ratified the BWC in 1982.


Libya continues to maintain a SCUD missile force, although that force is aging and suffers from maintenance problems. Despite the UN embargo, Libya continues to aggressively seek ballistic missile-related equipment, materials, and technology from a variety of sources in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Asia. Libya’s strategy has been to acquire or develop long range missiles (greater than 1,000 kilometers), but it has made little progress in recent years. For example, Libya’s efforts to acquire the North Korean No Dong missile have been unsuccessful. Such a missile would allow Libya to threaten Egypt, Israel, NATO countries in southern Europe, and U.S. forces in the Mediterranean region. Similarly, Libyan efforts to develop its own missile have met with only limited success. Its Al Fatah missile program remains in the testing stage. This developmental effort uses a rocket with a fairly small payload. Libya’s lack of progress with its missile program is directly related to its inability to gain adequate foreign assistance for its efforts, again partly due to UN sanctions.


Libya has land- and sea-launched short range anti-ship cruise missiles that it purchased from Soviet and European sources. Many of the systems are old and likely are suffering from maintenance problems. Libya also has a variety of fighter aircraft, some old bombers, helicopters, artillery, and rockets available as potential means of delivery for NBC weapons. Libya used transport aircraft in its attempt to deliver chemical agents against Chadian troops in 1987.



Syria’s primary national objective is to ensure that the regime of President Hafez al Asad remains in power. In addition, Syria seeks to regain the entire Golan Heights, retain hegemony over Lebanon, deter Israeli activities against Syria or Lebanon, prevent its own regional isolation, and assume a leadership role in the Arab world. To support these national goals, President Asad has acted to maintain capable military forces to defend his regime, conducted negotiations with Israel for the return of the Golan Heights, continued Syria’s military presence in Lebanon, and formed a strategic alliance with Iran.

Syria also has vigorously pursued the development of chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, and to a lesser extent, biological weapons as a means to counter what it perceives as Israel’s superior conventional forces and presumed possession of nuclear weapons. Syria believes that its chemical and missile forces act as deterrents against Israeli attacks. Asad apparently regards his ability to inflict unacceptable damage on Israel through the use of these weapons—and Israeli awareness of his willingness to do so under extreme circumstances —as a safeguard of the utmost importance.

Since abandoning its 1980s policy of achieving conventional parity with Israel, Syria has focused much of its developmental efforts on achieving a strategic deterrent to Israel. Syria has a sufficient technological base to support short range ballistic missile and chemical agent production and may be able to produce biological weapons at some point in the future. Syria does not appear to be pursuing nuclear weapons development. Although Syria faces severe financial constraints over the next decade, the strategic importance of ballistic missile and chemical programs will ensure a high priority during this time period.


Nuclear Is not pursuing development of nuclear weapons.

Ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Chemical Produces and is capable of using chemical agents.

Seeking independent chemical warfare capability.

Has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Biological Possesses adequate biotechnical infrastructure to support biological warfare program.

May be conducting research related to biological warfare.

Signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Ballistic Missiles Maintains and is capable of using SCUD B, SCUD C , and SS-21 missiles.

Nearing production of SCUD missiles with North Korean help.

Not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Other Means of Delivery Available Land- and sea-launched anti-ship cruise missiles; none have NBC warheads.

Aircraft (fighters, helicopters).

Ground systems (artillery, rockets).


Syrian leaders have acted rationally and, in general, have been unwilling to take significant political or military risks. In the future, Syria will not likely use chemical weapons or ballistic missiles (or biological weapons if developed) against Israel, or another enemy, unless the regime’s survival is at stake.


Syria has not pursued development of nuclear weapons and is not likely to do so for the foreseeable future due to systemic financial and technical constraints. However, Syria continues to be interested in nuclear technology. Through its long-term relationship with the IAEA, Syria has established a basic nuclear research capability, adequate for elementary work in agriculture and medicine. As part of an IAEA technical assistance project, Syria has acquired a small, safeguarded research reactor from China. This miniature neutron source reactor can be used for neutron activation analysis, radioisotope production, education, and training purposes. However, because of its small fuel loading and low power level, it represents no direct proliferation threat. Syria became an IAEA member state in 1963, ratified the NPT in 1969, and agreed to NPT-required IAEA safeguards in 1992.


Syria has a long-standing chemical warfare program, first developed in the 1970s. Unlike Iran, Iraq, and Libya, Syria has never employed chemical agents in a conflict. Syria has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin and may be trying to develop advanced nerve agents as well. In future years, Syria will likely try to improve the infrastructure for producing and storing chemical agents. At this point, it probably has weaponized sarin into aerial bombs and SCUD missile warheads, which gives Syria the capability to employ chemical agents against targets in Israel. Syria has not signed the CWC.

Syria remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its chemical warfare program, including precursor chemicals and key production equipment. Acquisition of such materials has become more difficult in recent years as a result of stricter export controls in many countries, which is coordinated through the Australia Group.

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Syria is pursuing the development of biological weapons. Syria probably has an adequate biotechnical infrastructure to support a small biological warfare program, although the Syrians are not believed to have begun any major weaponization or testing related to biological warfare. Without significant foreign assistance, it is unlikely that Syria could advance to the manufacture of significant amounts of biological weapons for several years. Syria has signed the BWC.


Syria acquired SCUD B ballistic missiles from the former Soviet Union in the mid-1970s, followed by shorter range SS-21s in the 1980s. These missiles likely are maintained for use in any future conflict with Israel. While the SS-21s likely would be employed primarily against military bases and forces in northern Israel, the SCUD’s longer range and larger warhead suggests that it could be used against Tel Aviv and other cities or against other regional states. Syria may have chemical warheads available for a portion of its SCUD missile force, enhancing this force’s value as either a strategic deterrent or an actual weapon.

Syria has received important supplies of SCUD-related equipment and materials from North Korea and Iran. Parallel with the production program for the liquid-propellant SCUD, Syria, with foreign support, also has devoted significant resources to establishing a solid-propellant rocket motor development and production capability. Combined with foreign support in other technical areas, Syria is laying the groundwork for a future option to develop a modern, solid-propellant SRBM.


Syria has a variety of Soviet-made land- and sea-launched short range anti-ship cruise missiles and air-launched short range tactical missiles. Syria also has numerous fighter aircraft, helicopters, artillery, and rockets available as potential means of delivery for NBC weapons.


As the states of the Middle East and North Africa continue to make progress toward an independent production capability for NBC weapons and missiles, they will become less susceptible to efforts to stem proliferation. Further, as their capabilities to employ the weapons improve, some countries may be more willing to use them in a conflict, especially since the threshold for chemical weapons and ballistic missile use has been crossed in recent years. Should conflict again occur in this region, particularly in the Gulf area, use of some form of NBC weapons or missiles seems likely.


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