The Syrian news outlet, Zaman Al Wasl, reported last week that North Korea has an underground military installation in Syria capable of holding chemical weapons. Some media sources are speculating the secret base may even contain nuclear missiles.
According to the report, North Korea’s underground military base is south of Qardaha, located in the Latakia province. Qardaha is significant in that it is the hometown of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is in close proximity to the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia.
Construction of the reported North Korean base apparently began seven years ago at the start of the ongoing civil war in Syria.
“Long tunnels have been built during the last seven years in a deep valley in Qardaha under the supervision of North Korean experts,” Zaman Al Wasl reported. “A part of the base is being constructed inside a large tunnel in the mountainous area that lies on the Mediterranean Sea. Just a small part is located outside.”
The report included satellite photos purportedly showing the base.
“The high level of secrecy and tight guard in the North Korean base raise speculations whether it’s a nuclear facility or overseas depot for North Korean weapons. The military collaboration between the Assad regime came to surface in the last two weeks.”
The report also cited a CNN piece linking North Korea to Syria’s chemical weapons program. An anonymous diplomat from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) told CNN that North Korea had sent acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers to Syria for use in chemical weapons laboratories.
The same anonymous diplomat also said to CNN that North Korean missile experts visited Syria in 2016 and 2017 and may still be operating in Syria. The CNN report says the Syrian government specifically denied that North Korean missile experts were operating inside the country adding that they were just sports trainers.
The diplomat who spoke to CNN said that they expect the report containing these accusations to be released by the UNSC on March 16.
Professor Timothy Furnish, an international media commentator and author on radical Islam, believes that military ties between Syria and North Korea may be unlikely but also probable.
“The connection between the two countries has long been rumored but never proven,” Dr. Furnish told Breaking Israel News. “Knowing what North Korea does and how desperate Assad is to stay in power, an alliance of convenience would make sense.”
“Ideologically it may seem strange, since Syria is strongly Muslim,” he continued. “But what it comes down to is cold hard cash. The North Koreans are desperate for money and Syria has access to funds from both Russia and Iran.”
Although no military connection between North Korea and Syria has ever been proven, the rogue East-Asian nation has previously meddled in the Middle East. North Korean experts on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles visited a military research facility near the Iranian capital of Tehran at least four times in 2015. Military cooperation between the two countries is in violation of UN sanctions but was never verified. Rumors of cooperation continue to this day.
Citing Washington officials, the Washington Free Beacon, an American conservative website, reported on the story and said that the US is monitoring the situation.
“We are aware of reports regarding possible DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] assistance to Syria to rebuild its chemical weapons capabilities,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon.
“We take these allegations very seriously and we are working assiduously to prevent the Assad regime from obtaining material and equipment to support its chemical weapons program.”
“The United States has long expressed its deep concerns about both the assistance the DPRK provides to Syria’s weapons programs and Syria’s ongoing possession and use of chemical weapons—both activities in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” the State Department official added.
The report in the Washington Free Beacon suggested that the large base buried under the mountain raised concerns of both nuclear and chemical weapons.