As world powers race to close a nuclear deal with Iran, recent reports have indicated that not all elements of Iran’s nuclear program may be domestic, but that some of it may be located in Syria and as far away as North Korea. In light of the secrecy surrounding the talks going on in Lausanne, Switzerland these reports are receiving some attention, according to The Israel Project, a Washington DC-based advocacy group.
If true, the implications of the reports are far reaching. The Israel Project said that the debate in these reports “involves how Iran has dispersed its nuclear assets to Syria and North Korea, which means that any envisioned deal would only slow a part of the Iranian nuclear program, while flooding the Iranians with cash to bolster what’s left over.”
Last November, as an earlier deadline for the talks approached, the issue came up regarding Iran moving its nuclear program’s assets to Syria, but now the debate is including North Korea. And according to the Israel project, “Even if everything goes right in slowing Iran’s nuclear work on Iranian soil…the deal wouldn’t touch all of the places and ways the Iranians are going nuclear.”
The reports indicate that Germany’s Der Spiegel revealed the existence of an undisclosed nuclear facility in Syria where as much as 50 tons of enriched uranium may have been taken, so that while it remained in Syrian territory, it was nonetheless under Iranian control. The facility is located deep in the Qalamoun region, near the town of Qusayr, territory controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force and Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, rejected the report as “ridiculous,” saying it was meant to “create imaginary concerns about the Islamic Republic.”
Similarly, the Iranians are using North Korea as a storage facility for both uranium stockpiles and the necessary missiles to be used as delivery methods for nuclear warheads, according to Ali Alfoneh and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The pair noted in the Washington Post that Iran is using North Korean territory to produce nuclear material, and other reports have indicated that Iran has ballistic missiles stationed in that country.
The Israel Project notes that, coupled with the relaxed verification methods that the West may be aiming for, and the influx of cash Iran would receive from sanctions relief, “Iran’s ability to conduct its nuclear world in Syria and North Korea,” would be “supercharge[d],” leaving Iran with the full ability to develop a nuclear weapon, and not hindering its state sponsorship of terrorism.