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Report: Syria agrees to hide Iran weapons

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

LONDON Syria has signed a pledge to store Iranian materials and weapons.

The London-based Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Iran and Syria signed a strategic accord meant to protect either country from international pressure regarding their weapons programs. The magazine, citing diplomatic sources, said Syria agreed to store Iranian materials and weapons should Teheran come under United Nations sanctions.

Iran also pledged to grant haven to any Syrian intelligence officer indicted by the UN or Lebanon. Five Syrian officers have been questioned by the UN regarding the Hariri assassination, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The sensitive chapter in the accord includes Syria's commitment to allow Iran to safely store weapons, sensitive equipment or even hazardous materials on Syrian soil should Iran need such help in a time of crisis," Jane's said.

The accord also obligated Syria to continue to supply the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah with weapons, ammunition and communications. Iran has been the leading weapons supplier to Hizbullah, with about 15,000 missiles and rockets along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The accord, negotiations of which began in 2004, was signed on Nov. 14 and meant to prepare for economic sanctions imposed on either Iran or Syria. Under the accord, Jane's said, Iran would relay financial aid to Syria in an effort to ease Western sanctions in wake of the UN determination that Damascus was responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Iran also pledged to supply a range of military aid to Syria. Jane's cited technology for weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional arms, ammunition and training of Syrian military.

Teheran would seek to upgrade Syrian ballistic missiles and chemical weapons systems. Under the accord, Iran would also be prepared to operate "advanced weapon systems in Syria during a military confrontation." Jane's said.

"The new strategic accord is based on the existing military MoUs, with the addition of the sensitive chapter dealing with cooperation in times of international sanctions or military conflict," Jane's reported.


Copyright 2005 East West Services, Inc.

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