Posted by Joshua on Saturday, September 15th, 2007
It would seem that the allegations that Syria is attempting to set up some sort of nuclear weapons program is buncombe. So says Joseph Cirincione in the Foreign Policy, below. But what other evidence is their that Bolton is shooting from the hip.
1. Bolton accused Syria of hiding Iraq's nuclear program even after the other spinners had given up on this claim.
2. Cyprus stopped a ship on its way from North Korea to Syria believing that it would contain evidence of nuclear cooperation, but the ship was carrying perfectly legal defensive missiles that Syria could use to protect itself from foreign attack.
3. Bolton accused Syria of buying nuclear technology from Pakistan through the Khan network. Baradei disproved this allegation and claimed it was nonsense.
4. Now Bolton is claiming Syria is importing nuclear technology again. His track record would suggest he is blowing hot air again.
Perhaps this raid was really about Lebanon after all, as some S.C. readers have suggested. A shot across the bow before the presidential elections. The US wants a pro-America president to be elected, which cannot happen unless the Lebanese opposition give up all the claims of increased representation. It is very unlikely they will do this. Syria probably does not have the power to pressure them to do this. Nevertheless, Washington is acting as if it believes that Damascus can order them to allow for a pro-US president.
Here are the remarks by Cirincione:
North Korea-Syria nuclear ties: déjà vu all over again?
Foreign Policy – Passport (Thanks to t-desco)
Blake Hounshell, 09/14/2007
Something didn’t smell quite right in Glenn Kessler’s recent story in the Washington Post about a possible nuclear link between North Korea and Syria. It looked to me like déjà vu all over again. So I asked Joseph Cirincione, senior fellow and director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, and a frequent FP contributor, to weigh in. Here’s his take:
“This story is nonsense. The Washington Post story should have been headlined “White House Officials Try to Push North Korea-Syria Connection.” This is a political story, not a threat story. The mainstream media seems to have learned nothing from the run-up to war in Iraq. It is a sad commentary on how selective leaks from administration officials who have repeatedly misled the press are still treated as if they were absolute truth.
Once again, this appears to be the work of a small group of officials leaking cherry-picked, unvetted “intelligence” to key reporters in order to promote a preexisting political agenda. If this sounds like the run-up to the war in Iraq, it should. This time it appears aimed at derailing the U.S.-North Korean agreement that administration hardliners think is appeasement. Some Israelis want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria.
Few reporters appear to have done even basic investigation of the miniscule Syrian nuclear program (though this seems to be filtering into some stories running Friday). There is a reason that Syria is not included in most proliferation studies, including mine: It doesn’t amount to much. Begun almost 40 years ago, the Syrian program is a rudimentary research program built around a tiny 30-kilowatt research reactor that produces isotopes and neutrons. It is nowhere near a program for nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel. Over a dozen countries have aided the program including Belgium, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States (where several Syrian scientists trained) as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). If North Korea gave them anything short of nuclear weapons it is of little consequence. Syria does not have the financial, technical or industrial base to develop a serious nuclear program anytime in the foreseeable future.
Nor is there anything new about Syria being on the U.S. “watch list”; it has been for years. Unfortunately, this misleading story will now enter the lexicon of the far right. For months we will hear pundits citing the “Syrian-Iranian-Korean nuclear axis” and complaining that attempts to negotiate an end to North Korea’s program are bound fail in the face of such duplicity, etc., etc.
The real story is how quickly the New York Times and the Washington Post snapped up the bait and ran exactly the story the officials wanted, thereby feeding a mini-media frenzy. It appears that nothing, not even a disastrous and unnecessary war, can break this Pavlovian response to an “intelligence scoop.”
For information on the Syrian nuclear program that any reporter should have read, see the Web site of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.”
UPDATE: Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler responds via e-mail:
“I think the world of Joe Cirincione. So I obviously take his concerns seriously.
All I can say in response is that I (and a number of uncredited colleagues) spent more than week knocking on doors of many agencies, seeking answers. No one tried to wave us off the story, including people who normally I thought would have tried their best to prevent us from printing it. I did note a number of caveats and explained that Syria never had much of a nuclear program. There appears to be a connection to the Israeli raid, which is now the subject of some of the tightest censorship in years. We will keep pursuing the story in hopes of providing greater clarity for our readers–and especially experts like Joe.”
Greenspan in his new book even goes as far as blasting Bush's war on Iraq, saying: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."