A study on: Exploring U.S. Missile Defense Requirements in 2010: What Are the Policy and Technology Challenges?


Syria has several motivations for the development of a missile-delivered WMD capability. These include:

Syria has felt intimidated (and believes the Arab world in general has been intimidated) by Israel's nuclear capability. Arab WMD systems are required to restore the balance.

Syria views Israel as an aggressive state that seeks to expand in fulfillment of biblical promises to occupy the land from the Nile to the Euphrates:71

Syria suffered a lot of damage from Israel's strategic bombing campaign during the 1973 war, a campaign in which Syria was unable to respond in kind.72

The development of WMD capabilities is a necessary hedge against defeat in the face of Israel's expansionist designs.

The survivability of Iraq's mobile ballistic missiles during the 1991 Gulf War greatly impressed Syria. Although the physical damage these missiles inflicted on Israel was small, Israel paid a much larger price in economic and psychological terms.73 Consequently, Syria views missile systems as key strategic assets for assured penetration of Israel's defenses.

Syrian missile systems are also assets that could be used against Israel's tactical and operational nodes during the early stages of mobilization. For example, missile- and air-strikes delivered against Israel's equipment storage depots, communication centers, and airfields could degrade and delay Israel's warfighting preparations, which are highly dependent on the mobilization of reserve forces.


Currently, Syria is believed to have about 600 ballistic missiles in ser-vice along with roughly 60 transporter-erector-launchers (TELs). 74 Scud missiles, which Syria now manufactures in both the B and C versions, are the most commonly represented missiles in Syria's arsenal.

The Scuds are manufactured in Syria's two underground missile factories located near Aleppo and Hamah. See Figure 4-13. These facilities are believed to have been constructed with Iranian, North Korean, and Chinese assistance.75 It is uncertain whether or not Syria will in the future produce the Chinese M-9/DF-15 missile in these same factories. As noted in Chapter 3, some Chinese specialists are thought to be working in these plants.

Syria's missile forces are equipped with conventional and CW warheads; the country is considered to be the leading nation in the Arab world in chemical weapon development, with indigenous production of Sarin and VX nerve agents occurring in three centers located near Damascus, Hims, and the village of al-Safirah.76 As for BW capabilities, according to a U.S. government official. The Damascus Biological Research Facility is engaged, with foreign support, in BW research involving Anthrax, Cholera, and Botulism.77 Its research efforts may have reached the weaponization stage. For example, ACDA's 1996 report on arms control compliance states that Syria probably has offensive BW systems. Although Syria currently does not have a nuclear weapons program, its recent interest in acquiring nuclear power technology has raised some concern that the country may be beginning to move toward the eventual development of the nuclear option.

Of particular interest is Syria's relationship with Iran. The two countries are cooperating extensively in the development of their strategic programs. For example, Israeli sources claim that Iran and Syria shared the cost of setting up domestic plants to produce the North Korean Scud C. They are also cooperating to develop CW and BW, to ship and exchange missile parts, and to exchange technicians and specialists in unconventional weapons.78 Considering the fact that Syria was impressed by the performance of the U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile during the Gulf war,79 it cannot be ruled out that if Iran did acquire a Tomahawk missile from Bosnia, the technical information on that system may have been shared with Syria. Syria is also believed to be developing its own cruise missile system for future deployment.


71 Michael Eisenstadt, "Syria's Strategic Weapon's," Jane's Intelligence Review, April 1993, p. 168.

72 Ibid., pp. 168-69.

73 Ibid., p. 169.

74 "Briefing: Ballistic Missiles," Jane's Defence Weekly, April 17, 1996. p. 43.

75 Eisenstadt, op. cit., p. 170.

76 Ibid., p. 169; and Alex Fishmand and Arye Egozi, "Sources Comment On Syrian Scud C Tests, Chemical Warheads," Tel Aviv Yedi `ot Aharonot," translated in FBIS-TAC-97-064, March 5, 1997.

77 Briefing by a U.S. government official to a 1995 workshop. The briefing was presented on a nonattribution basis.

78 Amy Dockser Marcus, "U.S. Drive to Curb Doomsday Weapons In Mideast Is Faltering," The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 1996, p. A1.

79 Eisenstadt, op. cit., p. 172.