Jerusalem, Feb. 19 – Iran defied world opinion by sending warships to bolster the Syrian regime only days after the United Nations voted to condemn Syria for human-rights violations against its own people.
Iran has repeatedly voiced support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The warships docked in the Syrian naval port of Tartous in defiance of the U.N. resolution that condemned the “widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities.”
Iran itself is under severe U.N. and international sanctions aimed at forcing the Islamic republic to halt its nuclear program, which is widely believed to be developing nuclear weapons. For the past several months the Iranian military has been holding a series of large-scale war games, including one this week.
Over the weekend Iranian-supported terrorist groups in Gaza fired five rockets from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where Israeli soldiers recently discovered a large Iranian-manufactured bomb. Terrorists had placed the massive charge alongside the border fence to target IDF soldiers and whereas many bombs and rockets are manufactured locally in Gaza, “in this case there was no doubt the explosives were Iranian-made,” a military source told Ynet News.
U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said Iran is threatening to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which could be more dangerous than the original East-West Cold War as there are not the same “safety mechanisms” in place, the Daily Telegraph reported.
“Because they are clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme … If they obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons,” Hague said.
The minister called it “the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented,” Hague said.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will hold talks with Iranian officials Feb. 20 and 21 in a bid to get elusive answers about the Iranian program before publication of the U.N. watchdog’s next report. The IAEA issued a damning document last year, which concluded that despite Iranian claims its nuclear program was peaceful, Iran was taking steps that could only be used in the development of nuclear weapons.
“I’m not optimistic that Iran will provide much more information because I think any honest answers to the IAEA’s questions would confirm that Iran had been involved in weapons-related development work and Iran wouldn’t want to admit that for fear of being penalised,” Mark Fitzpatrick of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said.