Israel: November 27, 2000


SYRIAN MISSILE PROGRAMS MAKE PROGRESS; US and Israeli officials report that six months after the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, the Syrians are continuing their programs to produce chemical weapons and ballistic missiles to carry them. US intelligence says that the Syrians have developed these weapons as a counter to Israeli nuclear-tipped missiles. Syria has missile warheads containing Sarin nerve gas, and are on the verge of producing a warhead filled with the more deadly VX nerve gas Syria has two missile brigades, each with a dozen mobile launchers and about 100 stored Scud-B and Scud-C missiles. Because the Syrians could no longer get fuel and parts for these missiles from Russia, they have obtained supplies from North Korea and Iran. The Iranians helped Syria set up facilities to produce Scud fuel and parts. North Korea helped the Syrians set up a factory to build their own Scuds and have helped Syria convert a hundred Scud-Bs with a range of 300km to Scud-Cs with a range of 500km. The Syrians are now working, with North Korean help, to invent a missile that the Israelis call the Scud-D. This will have a range of 700km, at the cost of a reduced warhead (only 350-450kg) and degraded accuracy. Syria tested this missile in September but could only reach a range of 600km. It is thought that this is the missile which will carry the new VX warheads. The Syrians want the longer range not to reach other targets, but the same targets from deeper inside Syria. This would make it harder for Israeli aircraft to find and destroy the launchers. The Syrians are reportedly working on a version of the North Korean No-Dong-1 to use as a strategic deterrent against Turkey. The Syrians are also working (with Chinese help by way of Iran) on solid-fuel missiles because these are easier to store and use.--Stephen V Cole


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