The U.S.-Russia agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons is reigniting a controversy over the 2003 covert operation by Russian special operations forces to remove Iraqi weapons — including chemical arms — and move them to Syria and Lebanon prior to the Iraq War.
John A. Shaw, a former Pentagon official who first disclosed the Iraqi-Russian collaboration to The Washington Times, said the agreement brokered by Moscow could resolve unanswered questions about the arms transfers.
“The Russians were the principal — if not the sole — supplier of chemical weapons to both Iraq and Syria,” said Mr. Shaw, a former deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security who tracked Iraqi weapons for the Pentagon.
Mr. Shaw noted that U.N. inspectors who surveyed the site of the Aug. 21 Syrian chemical weapons attack near Damascus found an intact rocket motor inscribed with Cyrillic writing, indicating the delivery system was Russian in origin.
Mr. Shaw said Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons — about 1,000 tons of nerve and blister agents — is estimated to be 50 percent larger than it was in 2003.
“My people on the ground definitively tracked the Russian movement of Iraqi [chemical weapons] and high explosives to three locations in Syria and two in Lebanon in 2003,” Mr. Shaw told Inside the Ring.
Russian convoys of trucks that carried the arms were photographed by satellites and confirmed by the chief of Ukraine’s intelligence service, who provided the Pentagon with specifics on the special operations units involved and the material they removed, he said.
“Now we have the Russians ostensibly about to certify quantities of weaponry that until a few weeks ago no one admitted existed in Syria, much less that part of it had been moved from Iraq, or that all of it is Russian,” Mr. Shaw said.
News reports from the Middle East, including Syrian defectors, stated in recent days that Syrian forces had begun moving chemical arms stockpiles to Iraq and Lebanon.
“Do we have some more Russian speznaz troops in civilian garb moving them back, or do we have the even more interesting spectacle of Syrian troops ferrying nerve gas over the border into Iraq?” Mr. Shaw asked.
“But the real question is who [the weapons] are going to and their real destination,” he said. “We have made the poacher into the gamekeeper, so expect the usual avalanche of denials, distractions and dissimulation from the Russians.”
A senior Russian government official, presidential aide Sergei Ivanov, told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday that the Soviet Union “never supplied warheads with sarin either to Syria or any other country of the world.”
Edward Timperlake, a former deputy to Mr. Shaw at the Pentagon, supported Mr. Shaw’s claims.
I believe Russian special forces successfully moved poison gas shells out of Iraq, so what confidence should anyone have that the Russians can now be honest brokers in helping collect poison gas shells being used in Syria,” he said.
Mr. Shaw went public in 2004 with dramatic disclosures that Russian special forces moved Saddam Hussein‘s high explosives and special weapons out of Iraq in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
“The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units,” Mr. Shaw said at the time. “Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units.”
Documents shown to U.S. officials in 2004 revealed that among the weapons removed by the Russians were chemical agents used in making poison gas.
Mr. Shaw was removed from his position shortly after going public with the disclosures.
The Defense Intelligence Agency dismissed the claims of covert Russian-Iraqi weapons transfers to Syria and Lebanon as Israeli propaganda, officials said at the time.
A former Syrian army commander in charge of a unit equipped for chemical warfare told the Abu Dhabi news outlet The National Online that he was ordered by senior Syrian regime officials to use poison gas against rebels. The report was published Monday.
“I am a witness and received orders three times to use chemical gas last year,” said Brig. Gen. Zaher Saket, the defecting commander. “But I did not implement the orders.”
Gen. Saket also said that “some of the chemical weapons shipments are already with Hezbollah,” the pro-Syrian Lebanese terrorist group.
2008 FINANCIAL WARFARE
Information from the Pentagon indicating that the 2008 financial crisis was covert economic warfare against the United States will be disclosed Wednesday.
A documentary set for broadcast on television commentator Glenn Beck‘s Blaze TV reveals that the Pentagon conducted a second internal study on the financial crisis.
A Navy special operations officer told the investigative program “For the Record: Unrestricted Warfare” that he directed a “forensic investigation” into the 2008 crash that followed the financial collapse of Wall Street firms Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.
The program title “Unrestricted Warfare” comes from a 1999 book by two Chinese colonels who called for China to use all means, including economic warfare and terrorism, to defeat the United States in a conflict.
The Pentagon study was conducted by a military contractor that specialized in global finance.
“That report concluded there is overwhelming evidence that China and Russia launched economic terrorist attacks on the United States in 2008,” the documentary states.
The broadcast included interviews with financial analyst Kevin Freeman, who produced a separate study for the Pentagon in 2009 that argued that the financial crisis was the result of covert economic warfare.
Mr. Freeman’s study was produced for a Pentagon group looking at unconventional warfare and was suppressed by Pentagon higher-ups who disagreed with its conclusions.
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a special operations forces veteran who worked in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence during the George W. Bush administration said the Pentagon is averse to dealing with economic warfare.
“I knew that confronting a reality like this kind of capability by our adversaries is not something that was going to resonate,” Gen. Boykin was quoted in the documentary as saying. “Because the problem is, if you acknowledge that this is a real threat, then you have to deal with it.”
The disclosure that an additional study was conducted is likely to rekindle debate on the subject.
“There’s no question that there was a financial terrorism component to the 2008 economic crisis,” Mr. Freeman told Inside the Ring.
“My initial research for the Pentagon demonstrated that. Foreign intelligence services privately acknowledged it. And now it seems a separate Special Operations Command study confirmed it.”
Mr. Freeman said the Pentagon report indicates that “we are more vulnerable than ever to economic attacks.”
“The next attack, as outlined in my book ‘Secret Weapon’ will likely be the most devastating of all,” he said. “China, Russia and Iran are now discussing our economic vulnerabilities and how to exploit them.”
NORTH KOREA ROCKET TEST
North Korea’s communist government is engaged in a charm offensive aimed at improving the Pyongyang regime’s relations with China. The more conciliatory posture followed many months of warlike rhetoric against the United States, South Korea and Japan and coincided with visits to North Korea by senior Chinese officials.
Behind the scenes, however, alarming signs are emerging. They indicate that North Korea is continuing to develop its nuclear forces and long-range missiles.
Western diplomatic sources confirmed that North Korea recently conducted a test of a large rocket motor for a space-launch vehicle. The motor test indicates that the North’s long-range missile program is advancing.
Additionally, recent satellite photos show steam rising from North Korea’s nuclear facility at Yongbyon. The 38 North Institute reported last week that the imagery reveals North Korea has restarted its 5-megawatt plutonium reactor. The reactor is capable of producing 6 kilograms of plutonium a year that Pyongyang can use to slowly increase the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile, the institute stated in a report Sept. 11.
The diplomatic sources said preparation for the rocket-motor test has been under way at a missile facility at Tongchang-ri since June. It is “highly likely” that the test was conducted recently as part of North Korea’s large space-launch vehicle program, they said.
Japan’s NHK television reported Tuesday that the North Korean rocket test was part of an intercontinental ballistic missile and that the test took place several days ago.
The broadcast report said the rocket engine could be used in the new KN-08 road-mobile ICBM that the Pentagon has determined poses a significant threat to the United States.