Syria denied claims by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Iraq may be transferring chemical and biological weapons to Syria, saying Wednesday that the accusation aims to divert attention from Israel's arsenal.
"This accusation against Syria is ridiculous because Syria signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and called all Arab states to make the Middle East clear of weapons of mass destruction whether nuclear, chemical or biological weapons," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Damascus.
"The only side that still stands against this call is Israel," the spokesman said.
Sharon told Israel's television's Channel 2 on Tuesday that the Jewish state has information that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was transferring weapons he wants to hide, including chemical and biological weapons, to Syria.
Sharon said the transfers have not been fully verified. "We have some information to that effect. We are now working to confirm the information," he said. Sharon did not indicate where the information came from or what form it took.
Sharon's comments came as the United States and Britain continued their accusations against Iraq that it is still hiding weapons of mass destruction. Iraq says it is clear of such weapons.
U.N. weapons inspectors resumed their work in Iraq last month after four years of absence. They have visited dozens of sites that were linked to Iraq's programs of missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
The Syrian spokesman said that Sharon's claim was "untrue and aims, at the same time, to divert attention from the nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal that Israel possesses."
"Israel, through its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction represents dangers not only to the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon but to the whole region as well as to international peace and stability," the spokesman said.
Israel has so far refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has never admitted to having nuclear weapons, but experts say it has an arsenal of at least 100 warheads.