Sunday, September 26, 2004

Connecting the Dots: Iraq-Syria-Iran

Two related stories that add up. Newsmax reports that during an interview with Steve Malzberg on WABC Radio, Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong (USMC Ret.), the No. 2 at CENTCOM under Gen. Tommy Franks, revealed that U.S. military intelligence had determined that weapons of mass destruction were being smuggled out of the country as the U.S. prepared to invade (via Wizbang!):
"Two days before the war, on March 17 [2003], we saw through multiple intelligence channels - both human intelligence and technical intelligence - large caravans of people and things, including some of the top 55 [most wanted] Iraqis, going to Syria,"
General DeLong also stated that Iraq had also buried some material, which was relatively easy due to the small size of the components involved:
"In order to transport their biological weapons, they could take their entire experimental weapons system in one or two suitcases - pretty easy to hide," he told Malzberg.

As for Saddam's chemical weapons cache, his deputies could have fit them into "a van - probably one van or two vans and either bury it or drive it across one of the borders,"
Put that together with this story from The Telegraph (via Captain's Quarters):
Syria's President Bashir al-Asad is in secret negotiations with Iran to secure a safe haven for a group of Iraqi nuclear scientists who were sent to Damascus before last year's war to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Western intelligence officials believe that President Asad is desperate to get the Iraqi scientists out of his country before their presence prompts America to target Syria as part of the war on terrorism.
There's more:
American intelligence officials are concerned that Syria is secretly working on a number of WMD programmes.

They have also uncovered evidence that Damascus has acquired a number of gas centrifuges - probably from North Korea - that can be used to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.
And, as for Iran and its WMD programs, The Telegraph notes:
The Iranians, who possess one of the world's largest oil reserves, insist that their nuclear programme is aimed solely at developing nuclear energy. Last week relations between Teheran and the IAEA deteriorated further after the Iranians reneged on a commitment to suspend their nuclear programme.

In a move that will raise suspicions in Washington that Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb, Teheran announced that it was to press ahead with plans to enrich 37 tons of uranium into the gas needed to turn the radioactive element into nuclear fuel. Nuclear experts estimate that when the process is complete the Iranians will have enough enriched uranium for five nuclear bombs.

The IAEA responded by passing a resolution setting a November 25 deadline for Iran to clear up suspicions over its nuclear activities or risk having the issue referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions. The resolution also demanded that Iran halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be used for both energy and weapons purposes.

In a further gesture of defiance, Ali Shamkhani, the Iranian defence minister, announced that the Iranian army has taken delivery of a new "strategic missile".

The missile, unnamed for security reasons, was successfully tested last week, Shamkhani was quoted as saying by state television. It was unclear if the weapon in question was the Shahab-3 medium-range missile, acquired by the Revolutionary Guards in July last year. An improved version was successfully tested in August.

The Shahab-3 is based on a North Korean design and is thought to be capable of carrying a one-ton warhead at least 800 miles, which puts Israel well within its range.
Iraqi scientists, are smuggled into Syria and work on that country's nuclear program with the help of North Korean centrifuges. Syria then tries to pass them on to Iran, which is enriching uranium and upgrading its North Korean missle forces.

Sobering news that should answer any doubts about an "axis of evil" or about the need for preemptive war. As Thomas P.M. Barnett pointed out in The Pentagon's New Map, new times call for new rules. This ain't the Cold War and the concept of nuclear deterrence or mutually assured destruction won't work when your enemy wants to die.