The skies seem a dangerous place to be these days, what with MH370 disappearing out of thin air, MH17 being shot down over Ukraine and dozens of flights to and from Israel being cancelled for fear of rocket attacks.
But Iran must not have heard the news. The latest indication of that came on Tuesday, when the German Sueddeutsche newspaper, citing Western intelligence sources, revealed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) keeps an ammunition hangar within Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, in close proximity to civilian aircraft and air traffic.
The report said the IRGC has taken over an entire hangar, which it uses to store arms – from mortar shells and rockets to surface-air and surface-to-surface missiles, to anti-ship projectiles, to other munitions. These are then smuggled to proxies in other countries, such as Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip – aboard civilian aircraft, as past inspections of Iranian passenger planes have shown.
In the article, titled “Terror Hub,” the paper’s Paul-Anton Krüger said the international airport, Iran’s “gateway to the world,” has now become a “hub” for illegal (and dangerous) deliveries – UN sanctions, conventions and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations be damned. The hangar where the weapons are stored, previously used by Iran Air, is even visible to those arriving at the airport by taxi from Tehran.
Judging from Gaza, Syria and Iran itself, The Iranians and their proxies seem to have a habit of storing arms close to civilian populations. In this case it is certainly worth the effort – because this way, Iran can bypass Israel and Egypt and just send weapons every which way, including to pro-Kremlin forces in chaotic Ukraine sorry, pro-Assad forces in chaotic Syria.
When ensuring rockets reach Middle East militants takes precedence over ensuring passenger safety, and when a major airport becomes a front for weapons smuggling, you have to start wondering what else is going on in Iran…