Assad: Syria not to scrap WMD unless Israel does; Exiled journalist says Iraqi WMD kept in Syria
Syrian President Bashar Assad has rejected U.S. and British demands for curbs on non-conventional arms, the British Telegraph newspaper reported Tuesday.
"We are a country which is [partly] occupied and from time to time we are exposed to Israeli aggression," Assad said in an interview with the London-based paper. "It is natural for us to look for means to defend ourselves.
"It is not difficult to get most of these weapons anywhere in the world and they can be obtained at any time."
Assad said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's surprise move last month to scrap his nuclear and chemical weapons programs was a "correct step," calling on the international community to support the proposal that Syria presented to the United Nations last year for removing all WMD from the Middle East, including Israel's widely suspected nuclear stockpile.
"Unless this applies to all countries, we are wasting our time," Assad said.
The Syrian president also said Palestinian suicide bombings attacks had become "a reality we cannot control" and blamed them on "the Israeli killings, the Israeli occupations".
Repeating a recent call for resumption of talks with Israel, Assad was quoted as saying that an agreement was impossible as long as Israel insisted on re-starting negotiations from scratch, rather than picking up where the talks left off during the previous Barak administration.
Meanwhile, Nizar Nayyouf, an exiled Syrian journalist, said in a letter published Monday by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, that he knows the three sites where Iraq’s WMD are kept. According to him, the storage places are tunnels dug under the town of al-Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria. These tunnels are an integral part of an underground factory, built by the North Koreans, for producing Syrian Scud missiles. Iraqi chemical weapons and long-range missiles are stored in these tunnels, Nayyouf claimed in his letter.
Another site is the village of Tel Snan, north of the town of Salamiyah, where there is a big Syrian airforce camp. The third site, according to this journalist, is the city of Shenshar on the Syrian border with the Lebanon, south of the city Homs.
Nayyouf wrote that the transfer of Iraqi WMD to Syria was organized by the commanders of Saddam Hussein’s Special Republican Guard.
Nayyouf was a founding member of a human rights organization, the Committee for the Defense of Democratic Freedom and Human Rights (CDF), which had been banned by the Syrian government shortly after its establishment. He was arrested and jailed in 1992 and was released during May 2001. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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