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Radar Evasion: Like Saddam & Libya, Iran & Syria Nuke Partnership

Perhaps you missed this from over the weekend in Germany's Der Spiegel:

The background to this surprising flurry of diplomatic activity is the fact that, according to intelligence reports, Syria has been working alongside North Korea for years to support Iran in the development of a military nuclear program. However, there are strong indications that Assad is now rethinking this policy.

According to intelligence reports seen by SPIEGEL, the Syrian facility at Al Kibar that Israeli jets bombed last September was the site of a secret military project. The report states that North Korean, Syrian and Iranian scientists were working side by side to build a reactor to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Sources say that the Iranians were using the facility as a "reserve site" and had intended sending the material back to Tehran. While the Iranians had made great progress in the development of uranium, it is alleged that they required the help of the North Korean experts when it came to plutonium technology.

Iran, Syria and North Korea are also alleged to have cooperated on the production of chemical weapons. Indeed, in July 2007 an explosion near the Syrian city of Aleppo killed 15 Syrian military officials as well as dozens of Iranian rocket scientists and, according to information obtained by SPIEGEL, three North Koreans. According to Jane's Defence Weekly, the accident released quantities of mustard gas and the nerve agent Sarin.

Iran is the world's Gold Standard at employing proxies and avoiding consequence. This should not come as a surprise. I and others have suggested precisely this likelihood in the past.

All that aside, interpreting Assad's moves as a drift from Iran is interesting dangerous conjecture. The simple math is this: Syria will drift from its alliance with Iran when it fears regional Sunni (read: Saudi Arabian), Israeli and/or American consequence for not breaking with Iran more than it fears Iranian retaliation for breaking away, including an Iranian-fostered domestic upheaval and perhaps even insurgency that would include Sunni groups aided by Shi'a Iran.

Considering this simple math, there is no indication that there has been a message of US/Israeli/Saudi 'pain and consequence' sent. Carrots will not dissuade. Fear motivates men such as Assad, and this is the currency Iran trades in.