published: 11.09.2013, 19:17 | updated: 11.09.2013 19:22:36
Prague - Israel has serious doubts about Syria being ready to give up chemical weapons, new Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic Gary Koren told CTK today, adding that the country may rather be pursuing delaying tactics.
Koren said Israel does not want to interfere in the Syria conflict, but if it were attacked, it would retaliate against the attack with full force.
Damascus agreed on Tuesday with Russia´s proposal that it hand over its chemical weapons to the international community for destruction and so prevent the planned U.S. operation.
Koren said it would be positive if weapons were taken out of Syria, but added that he doubts this will happen.
He also said it is hardly imaginable that someone else but the Syrian government forces were behind the chemical attack on rebels´ positions at Damascus on August 21 that claimed more than 1400 lives according to Washington.
Koren said there could be a chance to destroy the Syrian chemical arsenal, based on agreement, if the pressure exerted on Damascus continued and if the threat of a military action being taken against Syria persisted.
Commenting on the western countries´ hesitant reactions, he said a clear signal that the use of chemical weapons will never be allowed should be sent out.
Unless this happens, there is the threat that not only Syria, but also Iran or North Korea will have the feeling that something like this is possible.
Israel, that according to the AP news agency carried out three air raids against Syria this year, does not want to take action in the neighbouring Syria, Koren said.
He said the Israelis understand that such an action would involve a huge risk. The Syrian military is still very well armed, Koren said, and its allies from the Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah have 15,000 missiles at their disposal.
However, the Israelis are ready for any development. In the past weeks Tel Aviv decided to mobilise some reserves and civil defence centres are distributing gas masks, Koren said.
He said Israel will retaliate any attack with a hard action.
Koren said Israel´s strategic goal in the current crisis is an end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad´s regime, which would weaken the Damascus-Tehran-Hezbollan axis that is the most dangerous according to Israel.
Koren said particularly Iran is gaining a strategic advantage thanks to the developments in Syria because they have distracted attention paid to its nuclear programme.
He said the meetings between Israeli officials and representatives of the moderate Syrian opposition held to date were very positive.
However, he said even if al-Assad fell, it is not sure that democratic forces and not radical Islamists, whom it would be practically impossible to dissuade from a possible use of chemical weapons, would win in Syria.
Syria is one of the few countries that have not yet acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) effective since April 1997. Israel has not ratified it as yet either.
Koren said it is not possible to take such a step unilaterally, particularly with regard for the current situation in the region.
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