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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Rogue state roundup

Reuters had a lot of news today about so-called "rogue" states.

First, Russia plans to sell "advanced missiles" to Syria:
Russia said on Wednesday it wanted to supply Syria with advanced missile systems, a move certain to anger the United States which accuses Syria of having links to terrorism.
Predictably, the US isn't happy, though these missiles are perhaps not as terror-friendly as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles:
Earlier this week, a senior U.S. diplomat in Moscow said the United States remained concerned over any arms trading with Syria that could lead to missile technology falling into the hands of terrorists.

"Our bottom line is that they (the Russians) should not be providing any military assistance to Syria since they are a sponsor of terrorism," said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
US officials continue to call vaguely for states like Syria and Iran to live up to their international obligations.

North Korea, of course, withdrew from the Nonproliferation Treaty, which is completely legal. Indeed, it was kind of like the US decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty -- announce it, wait the requisite months, and more obligation.

Of course, nobody accuses Syria of violating the NPT. That's the US worry about Iran. But there's a link....

Syria and Iran have formed a "common front":
"We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said in Tehran after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari.

Otari told reporters: "This meeting, which takes place at this sensitive time, is important, especially because Syria and Iran face several challenges and it is necessary to build a common front."
They say it's not an anti-American alliance, but it sure looks like a duck:
Syria's ambassador to the United States, asked by CNN what the common front with Iran entailed, stressed that it was not an anti-American alliance and said Syria was trying to improve its relations with Washington.

"Today we do not want to form a front against anybody, particularly not against the United States," Imad Moustapha said.

"Syria is trying to engage constructively with the United States ... We are not the enemies of the United States, and we do not want to be drawn into such an enmity," he added.
If their common challenge isn't the US, then what is it? Iraq?


Well, Israel says Iran will be nuclear capable in 6 months:
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, whose country regards Iran as one of its most dangerous enemies, said Tehran was "trying very hard to develop the nuclear bomb."

"The question is not if the Iranians will have a nuclear bomb in 2009, 10 or 11, the main question is when are they going to have the knowledge to do it," he told reporters during a visit to London.

"We believe in six months from today they will end all the tests and experiments they are doing to have that knowledge."
Just to bring this full circle, Iran's latest nuclear power plant was supplied by Russia.

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