Posted by Joshua on Friday, September 14th, 2007
It is worth reviewing Syria's nuclear record to try to sort out spin from fact and speculation from firm evidence.
Three years ago, John Bolton made a number of allegations about Syria establishing a nuclear plant and being part of the Khan nuclear ring.
His allegations were strenuously pooh-poohed by IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei at the time. Khan was long ago shut down. We have been given absolutely no new evidence to suggest that the re-animation of these old allegations is not re-fried beans and attendant hot air.
Here is what al-Baradei said on June 26, 2004. Taken from an old SC post, here
"The Syrians told me they would be happy if we go and verify whatever we need to verify," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters on Saturday during a flight to Moscow for a four-day official visit. "But we haven't gotten any piece of information on why we should be concerned about Syria."
Last week, diplomats told Reuters that the IAEA considered Damascus a top candidate for being the fourth customer of the nuclear black market that supplied uranium enrichment technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
But ElBaradei said no country had provided any hard evidence that would implicate Syria as a customer in the black market set up by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic weapons programme. "This is something I read in the paper. Nobody came to us with any information (about Syria)," ElBaradei said. The IAEA, along with governments and intelligence agencies, has been investigating the details of Khan's network so that it can be dismantled. The results of the investigation are classified.
Syria, which has called for the creation of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, has denied any interest in nuclear weapons.
Last month, diplomats and nuclear experts told Reuters that an experimental high-tech intelligence technique developed by the United States had detected what appear to be operating uranium-enrichment centrifuges in Syria. Diplomats said the centrifuges, which spin at supersonic speeds to purify uranium for use as fuel for power plants or weapons, could only have come from Khan's network. But some U.S. officials — as well as ElBaradei — are skeptical about the centrifuges.
"We don't have super high-tech detectors, and if somebody detected something they'd better come to us. We are the ones who can clarify fact from fiction," ElBaradei said.
ROME — A senior U.S. nuclear official said Friday that North Koreans were in Syria and that Damascus may have had contacts with "secret suppliers" to obtain nuclear equipment.
Andrew Semmel, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy, did not identify the suppliers, but said North Koreans were in the country and that he could not exclude that the network run by the disgraced Pakistan nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan may have been involved.
He said it was not known if the contacts had produced any results. "Whether anything transpired remains to be seen," he said.
Syria has never commented publicly on its nuclear program. It has a small research nuclear reactor, as do several other countries in the region, including Egypt. While Israel and the U.S. have expressed concerns in the past, Damascus has not been known to make a serious push to develop a nuclear energy or weapons program.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined to comment on Semmel's remarks but noted that the United States had longstanding concerns about North Korea and nuclear proliferation.
"We've also expressed, over time, our concerns about North Korea's activities in terms of dealing with A.Q. Khan and others around the globe," he told reporters.
McCormack said he was not aware of any specific link between North Korea and Syria.