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CIA Weapons Report: Syria, Libya Top List - 2001-09-08

A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report says Iran, Syria and Libya are among the most active countries aggressively seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

While Iran maintains one of the world's most aggressive programs to acquire weapons of mass destruction and missile systems to deliver them, Syria is trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents, and Libya continues to develop its nuclear research.

That's the finding of a twice-yearly CIA report to the U.S. Congress that tracks several countries' efforts to obtain nuclear, chemical, biological and high-tech conventional weapons.

The CIA report said Tehran is attempting to develop a capability to produce various types of weapons, including chemical, biological and nuclear.

The report said Russia and China have provided a good deal of technical support for Iran's weapons program, including the building of a 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant.

The report said the assistance gives Iran more nuclear know-how, and could be used to advance Iran's nuclear weapons research and development program.

Iran already has stocks of chemical weapons, and was seeking more, as well as the ability to make its own.

The CIA report, covering the second half of the year 2000, says Iran sought help from Russia and western European countries in obtaining dual-use biotechnology.

The report went on to describe the efforts of other countries to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

India and Pakistan continued to upgrade their ballistic missile capabilities, allowing them to deliver nuclear weapons at greater distances.

Iraq, according to the report, was working on an unmanned drone, called the L-29, that could deliver biological or chemical weapons.

Libya, Syria and Sudan also worked to obtain the ability to produce their own weapons of mass destruction, the report said.