Both China and North Korea have been implicated in the recent shipment of ballistic missile components to Syria. We therefore have a simple question. Who will end up in control of these missiles when the insurrection is finally settled (as Bashar Hafez al-Assad is finally liquidated)?
Syria's inventory of SCUD-C or D missiles is a matter of open knowledge, and analysts will be quick to point out that this missile is notoriously inaccurate. That may be true, however we would also point out that it is roughly 150 km air miles from Damascus to Tel-Aviv, putting that target will within range if someone decides to light a few off in that southerly direction. Accuracy may cease to be a central concern if a wider conflict is planned.
The SCUD is not intended to be accurate, and we would also remind the reader that no SCUD has ever been shot down (despite some innacurate press releases during the first Gulf War). Perhaps the latest Israeli Arrow variants are sufficiently accurate to intercept the missiles at apogee of perhaps even in boost phase, however we would be most interested to know the level of confidence held by Israel in that regard.
While yet holding nation status, Syria had something to lose by attacking Israel. We cannot be sure that the Islamist rebels will subscribe to the same calculus and restrain themselves form settling what they see as their festering scores.
The time of greatest danger approaches as pieces fall into place for an all out assault on Israel from north and south. Once that begins, all other equations depart into the land of many possibilities, none of which are good.
Note: some reports mention gas masks being deployed to Israeli citizens. The reader should understand that gas masks are ineffective against Sarin, Tabun, or mustard agents due to their absorption through the skin.
“It appears the cylinders were intended for Syria’s missile program,” a diplomat said. “China assured us they will investigate what looks like a violation of U.N. sanctions.”
Another diplomat said: “It’s possible that the crew of the Chinese ship had no idea what this shipment really was. It’s good that China’s expressed a willingness to investigate.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China strictly followed U.N. resolutions and its own non-proliferation export controls.
“China will handle behavior that violates relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and China’s laws and regulations according to the law,” he told reporters in Beijing.
An Israeli strike in Syria could provide Assad with the opportunity to use Israel as a scapegoat and divert attention away from his violent crackdown, to Israeli violence.
On the other hand, the delivery of Scud D missiles to Hezbollah would be a significant increase to the organization’s capabilities. Syrian Scud Ds have a range of about 700 km. and can carry non-conventional warheads.
In marked disregard of UN sanctions (Resolutions 1718 from 2006 and 1874 from 2009 both prohibit North Korea from conducting security-related exports), North Korean technicians and engineers stationed in Syria are working with specialists from Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) to develop an arsenal of advanced SSMs.