German daily Der Spiegel claims Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is working with Iran and Hezbollah to acquire nuclear weapons, but others are skeptical.
Is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s tyrannical regime trying to acquire weapons-grade nuclear capabilities? A report by German daily Der Spiegel reveals that Syria, with the aid of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Lebanese Hezbollah terror organization, is building a nuclear-weapons device.
“Secret information obtained…indicates that the world is once again being misled by Assad. 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,” Der Spiegel writes.
Der Spiegel quotes analysts who say that the Syrian atomic-weapon program exists in a secret, underground location near the city of Qusayr. According to information obtained, approximately 8,000 fuel rods are stored there. Furthermore, a new reactor or an enrichment facility has very likely been built at the site.
According to intelligence agency analysis quoted by the German daily, construction of the facility began back in 2009. The work, their findings suggest, was disguised from the very beginning, with excavated sand being disposed of at various sites, apparently making more difficult for observers to realize how deeply they were digging.
Der Spiegel writes that the new intelligence on the site came from radio communications intercepted by a network of spies. The publication did not reveal the origin of the espionage report.
The espionage report records a voice, identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah functionary, who can be heard referring to the “atomic factory” and mentioning Qusayr. The man is clearly familiar with the site, code-named “Zamzam.” He frequently provides telephone updates to Ibrahim Othman, head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission.
Work performed at the site by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is also mentioned in the intercepted conversations.
Experts are convinced that North Korea is involved in Zamzam as well.
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, was skeptical of the report, saying: “The story is perplexing… so far we do not see anything that is distinctively nuclear,” according to Christian Science Monitor.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told Channel 2 that there was “no question” that the Assad regime had built a nuclear reactor in the past. In 2007, Israel reportedly attacked and destroyed the Al-Kibar nuclear facility that was under construction.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked a shipment of advanced arms on its way to Hezbollah from Syria last February. In November 2013, Israel allegedly launched a rocket from the sea at a Syrian naval base in Latakia. The latest IAF attack in Syria reportedly occurred in December 2014, when the IAF dropped approximately 10 bombs on stockpiles of advanced Russian-made missiles en route from the Syrian Army to Hezbollah, the Shi’ite terror organization.
Iran Denies any Connection
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the Der Spiegel reports as “ridiculous,” the Iranian Fars news agency reports.
“The magazine’s allegation is one of the attempts made by those circles whose life has been based on violence and fear to cloud the international community with illusion and create imaginary concerns about the Islamic Republic, and this is a ridiculous claim,” Zarif said in a joint press conference with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides in Tehran on Sunday.
Zarif also stressed Iran’s claim that it opposed the acquisition of nuclear weapons, mentioning the fatwa issued by Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei that bans the acquisition, possession and use of atomic bombs. “We believe that all nuclear weapons should be dismantled,” he stated.
In response to reporters’ questions about his upcoming meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, he said: “Since there are no political relations between Iran and the US, the meeting will be held in Geneva and our negotiations with the US are limited to the nuclear issue.”
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama expressed hope regarding the talks with Iran, but Israel anxiously continues to closely monitor developments between Tehran and Washington. Jerusalem remains concerned that the Obama Administration will settle for a “bad deal,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls it, in order to show a diplomatic achievement.
To read the detailed and full Der Spiegel report click HERE.
By: United with Israel Staff
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