Sunday, September 23, 2007

Axis of (shock!) evil*: North Korea, Iran, Syria

Two events, one intent


Israelis seized nuclear material in Syrian raid

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The New centrist:

Jane’s: Dozens of Iranians and Syrians died from poison gas missile blast

[From Israel Insider]

Additional proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the development and deployment of weapons of mass destruction was revealed Monday in a Jane’s Magazine report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.
According to the report, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas and VX gas.

The factory was created for the purpose of adapting ballistic missiles to carry chemical payloads, Jane’s claimed.

Although reports of the accident were circulated at the time, no details were released by the Syrian government, nor was the Iranian connection revealed.
continue reading]

* Oliver Kamm has this to say about the recent revelations:

After 9/11, the links between rogue states and nuclear technology became a prime security concern. We know that North Korea and Iran have co-operated in missile technology, and it's possible that they've done so in nuclear technology too. We know that Libya and Iran received weapons designs and technology from Pakistan, unofficially, through the A.Q. Khan network. The circumstantial evidence is now strong that two very different autocracies, Syria and North Korea, are co-operating on nuclear technology, in defiance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The secrecy surrounding the 6 September raid suggests that the target was important. Syria's non-response would confirm this. Syrian air defences proved gratifyingly useless and the covert activity identified by Israel is of the utmost diplomatic gravity. Meanwhile, Iran's mullahs - who in effect pull the strings that operate the intellectually nugatory figure of Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad - are doing their best, and with notable success, through deception and brinkmanship to escape the constraints nominally required of them by the EU-3. We know too that they are steering large amounts of weaponry, via Syria, to their client Hezbollah.

This is an ominous conjuncture. I shall have much more to say about it, but three observations are pertinent now.

First, when Tony Blair addressed the House of Commons a few days after 9/11, he saw more clearly than most the security challenges that now face us; I fear he is as prescient a statesman as I have long taken him for:

We know, that they [the terrorists] would, if they could, go further and use
chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We know,
also, that there are groups of people, occasionally states, who will trade the
technology and capability of such weapons. It is time that this trade was
exposed, disrupted, and stamped out. We have been warned by the events of 11
September, and we should act on the warning.

Secondly, recall the awful precedent of the UN's dealings with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. One point on which those who supported military intervention against Saddam in 2003 and those who opposed it ought to be able to agree is that the Security Council must, this time, demand compliance. As one authority on WMD, Professor Graham Pearson of the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, has written with reference to this appalling history (The Search for Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2005, p. 242):

It is indeed a sorry state of affairs when the Permanent Members of the
Security Council lose their resolve to address the dangers posed by a state
which seeks to maintain a weapons of mass destruction capability and the
Secretary-General effectively puts the UN organizations, UNSCOM and the IAEA, in the dock rather than the uncooperative and non-compliant state in Iraq. This led to the problems with Iraq being protracted and, it can be argued, to the
eventual war in 2003 as had the Security Council being [sic] resolute and firm
throughout and prepared to take military action in the last resort, it is
possible that Iraq would have cooperated with the United Nations as it was
intended to do throughout.

Thirdly, we may all in future have much cause for gratitude to the Israeli commandos who accomplished this mission, and whom I congratulate.


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