UN chemical weapons experts in Syria
UN chemical weapons experts in SyriaReuters

Israel has a large store of chemical weapons, a top United Nations official charged Wednesday.

A report on Israel Radio quoted the official as saying that the UN needed to begin an investigation of Israel on its chemical weapons stores, as it did with Syria.

The anonymous official said he was unable to specify what kinds of weapons or how much of them were in Israel's possession. However, he said they were “substantial.”

Israel has been accused for decades of having chemical weapons (CW).

In 1983, the CIA issued a report that said that "finding itself surrounded by frontline Arab states with budding chemical warfare capabilities, [Israel] became increasingly conscious of its vulnerability to chemical attack... undertook a program of chemical warfare preparations in both offensive and protective areas..."

The report continues: "In late 1982 a probable CW nerve agent production facility and a storage facility were identified at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW agent production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.”

Subsequent reports by US agencies have repeated the charge.

Israel is a signatory of international treaties against the proliferation of chemical weapons. It has not commented on its chemical weapons capabilities.

The anonymous UN official suggested that Israel willingly destroy its weapons, since they are unlikely to be used anyway, arguing that it places Israel in the same category as North Korea, the only other country in the world with known stocks of chemical weapons.