Expert: Possibility of Hezbollah Obtaining Chemical, Biological Weapons From Iranian, Syrian Regimes ‘Cannot Be Ruled Out in Principle’
The possibility that Hezbollah is being equipped with chemical and biological weapons cannot be ruled out in principle, an expert in the field told The Algemeiner on Thursday, following a week in which Israel was reported by Arab media outlets to have struck convoys of the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist organization in Syria.
Stressing that his comments were based on his assessment of the situation, rather than inside information, Lt. Col (ret.) Dr. Dany Shoham — a former IDF military intelligence analyst currently affiliated with the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar-Ilan University — said that Israeli intervention to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring various weapons systems has been going on for years, hinting that this week’s actions also likely emanated from the Jewish state.
“Apparently, Israel’s general concept has been to prevent the breaking of the strategic balance between Israel and Hezbollah, with an emphasis on air-defense systems, precision missiles, drones, anti-ship cruise missiles and unconventional weapons,” he said. “Nuclear weapons are not at all relevant in this context.”
Shoham’s view jibes with statements made by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman earlier in the day, during a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
“Our policies and positions are very clear, and they are based on three red lines: We will not allow any harm to come to the Israeli public; we will not allow anyone to undermine Israel’s sovereignty; and we will not allow the smuggling of sophisticated weapons or chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon and to Hezbollah,” Lieberman said, without directly responding to the question of whether Israel was, in fact, behind a surface-to-surface missile attack early Wednesday morning on the Al-Mezzeh airport west of Damascus. Nor did Lieberman or any other Israeli official confirm or deny a similar report last week that missiles landed in a town through which the road from the Syrian capital to Lebanon passes.
Shoham said it was “plausible” that the timing and proximity of the strikes — said to have been aimed at Hezbollah weapons convoys — suggest that specific intelligence data was received to warrant each pinpointed attack.
The weapons that Israel continues to attempt to intercept, said Shoham, are either from the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad or from Iran, which has been active on Assad’s behalf in the civil war that has been raging in Syria for more than five years.
Syria, said Shoham, “had a huge arsenal of chemical weapons, most of which — but not all — was dismantled. There is probably still some portion of that stockpile hidden by the regime. Iran has its own arsenal of both chemical and biological weapons. Technically, therefore, it is not a problem for Hezbollah to obtain them.”
However, he said, the considerations involving an attack on Israel with unconventional weapons are not merely technical.
“Not only would Hezbollah fear fierce Israeli retaliation for such a move, but Hezbollah is subordinate to Iran,” Shoham said. “And I don’t think Iran would let Hezbollah decide on its own to deploy such weapons. Unlike the ongoing situation in Syria — where the use of chemical weapons became routine — any use of unconventional weapons against Israel would constitute a total breaking of the rules.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner last week, IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser, currently a senior project manager at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank, said he believed that Iran has been stepping up the speed at which it is arming its proxies in the region — among them Hezbollah — due to its fear that after Donald Trump assumes the US presidency in January, its room to maneuver in Syria will be greatly hampered.