This week an interesting indicator of the decreasing chemical weapons threat in Syria and the Middle East emerged: Israel has reportedly stopped producing gas masks. This is not only for civilians, but soldiers as well. Only first responders will continue to be issued gas masks—of a higher quality than those issued to civilians.
Given continued doubts around the world of Syria’s honesty concerning its declared chemical weapons and facilities, some military professionals are highly critical of the Israeli move. However, Israeli intelligence agencies cite that even in a worst-case scenario a chemical attack would only be employed against soldiers on the border—and even this scenario is considered unlikely. Until this moment of cessation of production, upwards of 60 per cent of Israeli civilians have received government-issued gas masks.
Also, a new article by Dr. Paul F. Walker of Green Cross International was just published by Arms Control Today in its December issue (vol. 44, No. 10). Titled “Syrian Chemical Weapons Destruction: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead,” Walker argues: “the successful chemical disarmament effort in Syria represents a historic step toward the goal of ridding the world of chemical weapons.” It “has strengthened the global regime…and helped build momentum toward CWC accession by the remaining holdouts [Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea and South Sudan].” See http://www.armscontrol.org/ACT/2014_12/Features/Syrian-Chemical-Weapons-Destruction-Taking-Stock-And-Looking-Ahead.