Report: Iran Storing Uranium in Syria
Mon, October 22, 2012
Syrian rebels claim that Iran is hiding a stock of enriched uranium at a highly-protected site north of Damascus. The information appears in a series of five YouTube videos made by rebels exposing secret chemical and biological weapons facilities. U.S. intelligence officials say that the data is credible.
The uranium is allegedly at Syria’s largest chemical and biological weapons facility, located north of Damascus between Al-Tal and Aysh Wurur. The narrator claims he has entered the site and its roads reach 1,500 feet into the mountains in order to protect the weapons of mass destruction from cruise missiles. The stockpiles include mustard agent, cyanide, sarin, tabun, VX and biological weapons that poison food, water and soil, the video states.
Any Iranian uranium in Syria would not be included in intelligence assessments based on an accounting of the stocks at declared nuclear facilities in Iran.
The Syrian nuclear program must be seen as an extension of Iran’s. The Assad regime has denied access to multiple nuclear facilities for years. It’s been reported that 45 tons of North Korean uranium was flown from Syria to Iran after Israeli airstrikes destroyed Syria’s main nuclear facility in September 2007.
The massive Syrian chemical and biological weapons arsenal must also be seen as Iranian property. Syrian regime documents leaked to Al-Arabiya show that Iran actually controls some, if not all, of Syria’s chemical warheads and oversaw their movement in recent months. Iranian scientists reportedly flew into Syria to conduct a chemical weapons test at the Al-Safir chemical weapons site near Aleppo in late August.
A Syrian defector who claims he was the chief of staff for chemical warfare, Major-General Adnan Sillu, confirms that Iranian technicians are stationed at the Al-Safir site. He says there is a maze of tunnels leading to the weapons and their delivery systems, as well as a Scud missile base. North Korean scientists also work at the site.
There are about 20 chemical weapons sites around the country. The rebel-produced videos provide immense detail about some of these sites, some of which are hardened. Buildings housing Iranian and North Korean experts are also pointed out.
The Assad regime says it will only use its chemical weapons against “external aggression.” A sigh of relief is not warranted. From the beginning, the regime has claimed that it is a victim of “external aggression” because the rebels are receiving foreign support.
Major-General Sillu denies earlier reports that he said he defected after chemical weapons use was discussed at a secret meeting with Iranian Revolutionary Guards present. The original story quoted him as saying that the meeting’s participants agreed that chemical weapons would be used if a major city like Aleppo was lost to the rebels. It said that the transfer of chemical weapons to Hezbollah for use against Israel was also discussed.
It is not clear if Sillu is denying that the Assad regime plans to use WMD if Aleppo falls or just that he was present at the meeting.
Aleppo is in the scene of a fierce battle right now that could go either way. A large shipment of weapons to the rebels from outside forces or a series of defections could tip the scales. If it is true that Aleppo’s fall is the trigger for chemical weapons use, then that horrid scenario is a strong near-term possibility.
Matthew Van Dyke, an American that fought alongside the Libyan rebels and is currently in Aleppo filming a documentary, reported about the bloodshed in Aleppo on his Facebook page on October 18. He articulates the scene:
“You look down at your boots and wonder how they can still look so clean after stepping in the blood of civilians all day after they’ve been rushed to the hospital in the back of trucks and carried inside on plastic lawn chairs because there aren’t enough stretchers. Then you watch the hospital fill up and the pools of blood on the floor until someone gets a mop and pushes it all out the front door of the hospital where it spills down the steps like a macabre red carpet for the next wave of casualties coming in.”
Van Dyke says he saw a teenage boy, who had just lost his mother from the battle, take away the headless corpse of his baby brother. “[This] isn’t a war, it’s a massacre,” he concludes.
And the sad truth is that the pain of this story is miniscule compared to the agony of the headlines we’ll read if Assad gives the orders to use his WMD.
Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.