(cross posted from my blog)
The Times Online has published an interesting story which claims that the Israeli Air Force overflight of Syria in early September was part of a complex military operating aimed at seizing and destroying nuclear materials shipped from the DPRK to Syria:
Israeli commandos from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit â€“ almost certainly dressed in Syrian uniforms â€“ made their way stealthily towards a secret military compound near Dayr az-Zawr in northern Syria. They were looking for proof that Syria and North Korea were collaborating on a nuclear programme.
Israel had been surveying the site for months, according to Washington and Israeli sources. President George W Bush was told during the summer that Israeli intelligence suggested North Korean personnel and nuclear-related material were at the Syrian site.
Today the site near Dayr az-Zawr lies in ruins after it was pounded by Israeli F15Is on September 6. Before the Israelis issued the order to strike, the commandos had secretly seized samples of nuclear material and taken them back into Israel for examination by scientists, the sources say. A laboratory confirmed that the unspecified material was North Korean in origin. America approved an attack.
If true, this story is indeed very interesting. Let us assume that everything this article says is true. Let us assume that North Korea has indeed shipped some nuclear materials to Syria, let us even further assume that these nuclear materials are indeed related to some nuclear weapons program, let us even assume that the Israelis had incontrovertible information that the Syrians planned to somehow integrate this nuclear material to their missile forces. And now let us now summarize what the Times article really says:
The article says that a state armed with hundreds of nuclear weapons, a state which is not a member of the IAEA, can carry out an unprovoked attack on a sovereign member of the UN and a fully compliant IAEA member in good standing (in fact, Syria has just been voted in as a co-chairman of the IAEA). It can illegally seize its property, destroy its resaerch facilities and kill its nationals. And it can do all this with the full backing of the USA, a member of the IAEA and one of the five Permanent Members of United Nation Security Council
Yes, Syria is a member of the IAEA since 1963. The very purpose of the IAEA is to create a legal and non-violent mechanism to prevent any of its member from acquiring nuclear weapons and to monitor all its nuclear research programs to alert the world community about any possible illegal activities. The IAEA’s record is flawless: never has an IAEA member succeeded covertly developing a nuclear weapon.
The point is not that the Israelis have violated international law: Israel has already violated international law more than any other country and, probably, more than all other countries taken together (also, the USA has imposed more vetoes at the Security Council than the other UNSC Permanent Five taken together, and most of them in support of, what else, Israel).
No, the amazing thing is that, if confirmed, such an action raises no objections from the other members of the IAEA or of the UN for that matter. The culture thuggery of “might makes right” which has been spearheaded by the US and Israel for decades already has obviously become an integral part of international relations.
Likewise, the international community seems to have fully accepted a truly phenomenal double standard in what regards anything involving Israel (just imagine the outrage triggered by a Syrian bombing on any part of the huge Israeli nuclear weapons program).
International law, just like any other form of law, has as a primary objective the civilized settlement of conflicts. However imperfect, the law is the only mechanism which mankind has devised to avoid the “law of the jungle” in which the mighty “take the law in their own hands” like lynchmobs and street thugs do.
The wholesale abandonment of any kind of respect for international law by the USraelian Empire is the single biggest threat to international peace and order and no country in the world can consider itself safe from Imperial aggression.
Truly, we have returned to the Middle Ages.