The North Korean - Syrian connection tightensOn Saturday night, I reported that the trigger for Israel's alleged raid on a Syrian WMD facility was the arrival at a Syrian port of a ship from North Korea carrying a cargo labeled 'cement' on September 3. In an article in London's Telegraph, more details have emerged about the ship.
A suspicious North Korean freighter that re-flagged itself as South Korean before off-loading an unknown cargo at the Syrian port of Tartous is at the centre of efforts today to investigate Israel's recent airstrike on Syria.Dr. Aaron Lerner reports that the same ship also visited in June and July when it was also listed as carrying 'cement.'
An Israeli on-line data analyst, Ronen Solomon, found an internet trace for the 1,700-tonne cargo ship, Al Hamed, which showed the vessel started to off-load what Syrian officials categorised as "cement" on Sept 3.
This was three days before Israeli jets attacked a site in the north eastern desert of Syria, not far from its border with Iraq.
Since leaving Tartous, one of Syria's main ports on the Mediterranean, the ship's trace has disappeared and it is not known whether western intelligence agencies are tracking the vessel.
I don't know how much we can conclude from all this except to say that it is highly likely that this is the ship that the Israelis may have suspected was delivering something other than cement, and that Syria may have been getting some awfully interesting deliveries from North Korea (especially since cement is a commodity that is widely available in the Arab world, which would make shipping it all the way from North Korea a suspicious act in and of itself). In fact, this Lebanese cement manufacturer claims to export a lot of cement to Syria.