Sunday, September 8, 2013

9 Questions the Media should be asking Iran about Syria

Iran's former FM Salehi (Also current Defense Minister Dehqan, and current FM Zarif) recently claimed that Iran notified the United States 9 months ago (via Switzerland which handles American interests relating to Iran) that chemical weapons had arrived in Syria. Iran has been sensitive towards chemical warfare because of the usage of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. News media have latched onto this claim, and criticized the United States for not responding, yet these same reporters have not raised critical questions about Mr. Salehi's claims.

1) What types of chemical weapons were they? Sarin? VX? Exactly what weapons were allegedly smuggled into Syria?

2) Which countries have or possess the capability to produce these weapons? If they are only available in certain locations, then it would almost certainly have come from one of these locations. 

3) Where did these weapons come from? The route to Syria is important for understanding who would have shipped the weapons there. If a certain route is commonly used by a certain group, then there is a good chance that there will be some connections.

4) Do 1) and 3) match up? If the weapons came from somewhere which does not possess the capabilities to produce them, there clearly is a problem with the accuracy of this information.

5) How long can the weapon last in storage (both properly stored and improperly). Iraq whose chemical weapons stockpile has not been secured throughout has sarin but according to this CIA document, the weapons have shelf-life problems and had degraded quickly

6) Is it possible for this weapon to be properly stored in Syria by rebels? Are there any special procedures that must be taken to assure that the chemical agents do not degrade?

7) Which groups received this weapon as it arrived into Syria? Are these groups capable of staging a large-scale attack over a several kilometer sized area?

8) Who are these groups aligned with? Are the others they work with more capable of making an attack of the scale of Ghouta?

9) Where are these groups located? Where do they operate from? Syria is insecure in many areas and certain factions have control of different areas. If the exact location of this smuggling is identified, then those responsible may be identified. If these groups are incapable of operating in Damascus, (due to lack of reliable transit and chemical weapons handling or whatever other reason), then the Ghouta attack almost certainly was NOT perpetrated by these groups.

Until Iran answers these questions, I believe there is no reason to question the American/English/French/German intelligence claims that Assad was almost certainly the one responsible for the Ghouta attack. It is possible that these chemical weapons allegedly brought into Syria were used at another location, but the length of time since this alleged incident and the timing of the revelation of this information is highly suspicious. It is clear that Iran is attempting to imply that the Ghouta Massacre was perpetrated by these smuggled weapons. Iran has made a serious accusation, but has provided so little evidence so that I find myself doubting their claims. 


  1. Thanks for introducing me to the term persophile but with respect this seems like a ruse. I have never read anything from you but this piece reads more like someone who suffers from iranophobia.
    Firstly it seems you are way behind the dialogue on the Syria sarin "whodunnit". Media consensus jumped on the Assad bandwagon driven by the US and UK and which was padded with spurious and mendacious data by HRW (the 9km sarin missile) and Eliot Higgins aka Brown_Moses with his volcano rockets, despite fact that technical analysis by warhead expert Richard Lloyd strongly disagree with Higgins 'conclusions'.

    Mr Kaszeta the 'chemical weapon expert' whose 'hexamine' theory that has been adopted by all the Assad-did-it bloggers has been found to be based on amateur chemistry by real chemists and professionals in this domain. I might also add that he admitted that he conjured his theory from his claim that Ake Sellstrom stated that Hexamine was their 'acid scavenger' in the sarin production process. As it turns out, Ake Sellstrom said no such thing and actually refuted this in discussions with Professor Postol of MIT, thus his theory is also based on a baseless assertion. You might also like to know that further investigation by far more qualified people than I have undermined Mr Kaszeta and Higgins as well as the agenda-driven US and UK Govts suggestion that it was a 'massive' sarin attack on account of the lack body-burial count and the fact that the low grade sarin evidence is consistent with munitions loaded with a mix of sarin and water. Sarin does not break down for approximately 5.4 hours in pH neutral water. The functional ratio for this 'cocktail' is as little as 5 to 10 liters of sarin mixed with 40 to 45 liters of water, thus reducing the total amount of sarin used in the attack to as little as 60 liters, not a ton as Kaszeta first mooted.
    As for your comment "there is no reason to question the American/English/French/German intelligence claims" I am afraid there is EVERY reason. I would also draw your attention to the ignored fact that the UN report found no evidence to support the UK and France claims of other sarin attacks they raised to distract the the UN team from visiting Khan al-Assal. You might also like to know Eliot Higgins was told by a mercenary on the ground in Aleppo (Matt Van Dyke) that rebels DID HAVE sarin but he kept quiet about this (this is on record and he admits it). The ex UN peace envoy Lakdhar Brahimi now also agrees the rebels in Khan al-Assal probably were responsible.

    I have only touched on a few of the anomalies here. As of this moment 2nd August 2014, Professor Postol will be soon publishing another paper on the Ghouta affair that is expected to refine the analysis further and re-jig common misconceptions held by the media.

    1. I appreciate sincere comments and critiques, but insults are not tolerated.
      My point in raising these questions is to not argue FOR the US narrative, but rather to argue that the Iranian/Syrian narrative is problematic, and for fairly obvious reasons.