9th October 1998
A modern day Pandora’s box of evil in Israel
You will find it on no map. The government will not admit to its existence. At least six people have died in accidents there but their families will never know the details.
If it is successfully attacked by terrorists, you will be told nothing.
But you will know about it.
The Institute of Biological Research in Nes Ziona, 12 miles south-east of Tel Aviv, contains in a single room enough chemical and germ matter to destroy every man, woman and child on this planet. Like a modern-day Pandora’s Box, every evil imaginable exists in its test-tubes and petri dishes. Lift the lid and the world will be consumed by plagues more virulent than the Black Death and the AIDS epidemic combined.
The spittle of cholera and the spores of anthrax, the powder of mustard gas and the breath of gas gangrene, the seeds of botulinum and the discharge of ebola, all these are deliberately nurtured at Nes Ziona. My information comes from a senior ex-member of staff there, and though what he says is incredible, it would be even harder to believe that Israel was not doing this research. Similar programmes are certainly underway in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and southern states of the former USSR.
“There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon which is not manufactured at the institute,” another Nes Ziona scientist claimed this month.
The Dutch government has confirmed that the El Al Boeing 747-200 which smashed into an Amsterdam apartment block six years ago, killing four crew and 39 residents, was en route to Tel Aviv. The 42 gallons of dimethyl methyl-phosphonate (DMMP) were en route for Nes Ziona.
DMMP is an essential raw material of the nerve agent sarin, the gas used by Saddam Hussein to slaughter tens of thousands of Kurds at Halabja in 1991.
It kills by suffocation as the lungs collapse following total nervous system breakdown. The El Al cargo was sufficient to make 270 kilos of sarin.
One-tenth of a gram of sarin will kill a man – 270 kilos could wipe out 2.7 million people. Six months ago the Dutch Health Ministry launched an inquiry into sickness suffered by about 300 rescue workers and locals. They feared that depleted uranium, used as wing ballast in the jet, could have been released. The truth is even more frightening.
_The Nes Ziona institute was founded amid total secrecy in 1952. Its single building was hidden in an orange grove. Now the grove is desolate, and the buildings sprawl over several acres, hemmed by a six-foot wall with sensors to pinpoint intruders. Even members of the parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee are not allowed access. Though precautions are tight, at least six people have died there. No details have been released.
This capability has not been cultivated as a deterrent. It is not a sabre to be rattled when the enemy approaches. The government denies it even possesses such a sabre. Reserve Major-General Amos Lapidot, who headed Israel’s investigation into the Amsterdam crash, insisted to Dutch reporters: “We don’t buy chemical weapons materials from abroad. This is nonsense.”
If the Muslim world cannot be certain of Israel’s potential to unleash all Pandora’s demons, how should they be deterred from attack?
The answer is chilling. These weapons do not exist as bargaining counters in the Middle East’s ultimate game of poker. They exist to be used. And quickly. Israel’s F-16s can be armed with chemical warheads in minutes, with ground-crew on constant stand-by.
Two years ago Con Coughlin, chief foreign correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, reported that an Iranian programme personally overseen by President Hashemi Rafsanjani had pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa against its development, saying instruments of mass murder were forbidden by the Koran. It seems the Ayatollah changed his mind, for the fatwa was lifted shortly before Khomeini’s death.
Part of the project depended on Indian investment, with $15 million allocated to a plant outside Tehran for manufacturing phosphorous pentasulphide – a trigger agent for chemical weapons.
Coughlin predicted Iran would be manufacturing industrial quantities of sarin by 1997. This summer’s nuclear testing in the sub-continent proved India’s seriousness about weapons development. There is no reason to suppose Iran is not by now a chemical slaughter superpower.
I do not expect Israel to tolerate this situation. Nes Ziona possesses the capability to obliterate. Unless the international community can broker a heavyweight truce on weapons of mass destruction, it is probable a biological assault will be launched by Tel Aviv on Tehran before 2,001. The only question is whether this will be in retaliation to a chemical missile attack – or a pre-emptive strike.
And that question will scarcely matter, once Nes Ziona’s microscopic agents of mass murder are abroad.
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