As Iranian and American chief diplomats continue to meet to find ways to speed up nuclear negotiations and strike a final nuclear deal that would lead to the removal of all international sanctions on the ruling clerics, the Obama administration persists in ignoring the recent revelations about the Islamic Republic and its covert operations in the region.
A new Western intelligence assessment points to efforts by the Syrian government to renew its operations in an underground and clandestine nuclear facility near Qusair, close to the border of Lebanon, in order to produce nuclear weapons. Citing the Western intelligence assessment, the German weekly Der Spiegel pointed out that the reconstruction of the nuclear facility is being conducted with the assistance of the Islamic Republic, North Korea, and Hezbollah.
The intelligence report indicates that dialogue between Ibrahim Othman, head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission of Iranian, and North Korean and Hezbollah affiliates were “intercepted.” In addition, according Abu Muhammad al-Bitar, the Free Syrian Army has also noticed the "unprecedented" presence of Iranian and Hezbollah security members in the town of Qusair on the suburbs of Homs.
If Iran is engaged in such operations assisting Syrian President Bashar al Assad, it is breaching the protocols of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as well as posing a great threat to security in the region.
If, even before obtaining nuclear weapons, the ruling clerics of Iran are assisting their allies to become nuclear states, how can we trust the Islamic Republic in nuclear negotiations and how can one rely on their claim that they are not seeking to build a nuclear bomb?
Iran-Syria and North Korean-Syria military and nuclear cooperation has been going on for a long time. When it comes to the issues of ballistic missiles, Syria has previously cooperated with both Iran and North Korea.
Syria possess approximately 50 tons of uranium which could be adequate enough to create 5 nuclear bombs. For developing nuclear weapons either highly enriched uranium or an adequate amount of plutonium is required.
Some might make the argument that Syria developed the uranium by itself without the assistance of other countries or other non-state actors. Nevertheless, technically, pragmatically and realistically speaking, Syria does not possess the capability of developing an estimated 50 tons of natural uranium. This suggests that the role of other states and non-state actors have definitely played a significant role. Some of the only allies that the Syrian government has still kept are Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah.
It is crucial to point out that, without a doubt, becoming a nuclear state for the Syrian and Iranian government would be a formidable tool in to suppress opposition, maintain power, and deter foreign intervention in case of crimes against humanity.
There are two major nuclear site in Syria. The first one is the Al Kibar reactor in the northeast of the city of Deir Ezzour and the second one is Marj Sultan in the outskirt of Damascus where the fuel is reportedly stored.
News with respects to the Syrian government renewing its nuclear program were previously reported in 2013. There had been reports that some activities were being carried out at an alleged Syrian nuclear facility close to an eastern suburbs of Damascus, Marj Sultan.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported previously that Damascus was building a nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzour. Reportedly tons of enriched uranium in Damascus are being protected by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah.
According to Der Spiegel, “Syria’s dictator has not given up his dream of an atomic weapon and has apparently built a new nuclear facility at a secret location…..It is an extremely unsettling piece of news.”
In addition to the aforementioned concerns about the undeclared Syrian nuclear site and nuclear proliferation, one of the crucial issues is that the nuclear material might fall in the hands of multiple other players and Islamist groups. In other words, if these nuclear sites are seized by some radical groups or Al Qaeda-linked affiliates, they might be capable of utilizing the highly enriched uranium and produce nuclear weapons.
Iran’s other indisputable and multi-layered activities and engagements in Syria -- including the military, financial, intelligence, and advisory assistance to the Syrian government which have further radicalized and militarized the ongoing Syrian war -- persist. In addition, the recent intelligence report and satellite images of secretly renewing nuclear activities with the assistance of the Iranian and North Korean governments poses a grave threat to stability and security in the region. Unfortunately, despite the seriousness of this issue, the Obama administration continues to ignore these issues and persists on trusting the Islamic Republic in the nuclear negotiations.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.