Syria’s Reactor

On the surface, the CIA evidence that Syria was building a Yongbyon-type nuclear facility is compelling. There are some writers who seem less convinced, such as Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com who expresses his "Skepticism toward Bush claims about Syria and North Korea."  He writes: "After flamboyantly announcing that they had actual video of North Korean nuclear scientists inside the Syrian building, it turned out that the "video" was merely a compilation of rather unrevealing still photographs patched together, in Colin-Powell-at-the-UN fashion, with ominous narration making accusations with a level of certainty completely unmatched by the "evidence" itself.

Most skeptics argued that we cannot trust the CIA any longer and the photos could be cobbled together to suggest Syrian guilt. I have no way to judge this, but Syria could certainly have done more to back up Ambassador Imad Moustapha who has been left alone to deny photographic evidence. The Syrian government could at the very least supply a few photos of its own, suggesting that what it called a military warehouse was, in fact, just that. It has not chosen to do that for reasons it has not explained.

The second criticism of the CIA's effort was to argue that Washington should not be encouraging Israel to launch bombing raids without first going through legal channels, international agencies, and peaceful alternatives. Shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later policies are sure to undermine US legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. They will do nothing to dispel Arab anger at US and Israeli arrogance. On the contrary, the propensity to use force as a first option will convince others to do the same.

Watch the video of the CIA presentation to the congressional committees. Washington Post

US Syria claims raise wider doubts
By Jonathan Marcus
BBC News

More than half a year after the Israeli air strike that destroyed the alleged nuclear reactor under construction in Syria, Washington's release of what it says are still images of the facility before the raid amounts to the diplomatic equivalent of throwing a very large rock into a deep pool.

[landis: it should be noted that in the photo copied below, the Syrian side of this pair of photos has been colored red by a US technician in order to make the viewer see a greater similarity between what are being called the refueling ports in each shot.

The ramifications could be considerable, both for the Middle East and for the future of North Korea's own nuclear weapons programme. Further distrust has been sown between the United States and the UN's nuclear watchdog – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). And even on Capitol Hill Democrat lawmakers are angry that the administration apparently sat on this evidence for some considerable time.

Shades of Iraq?

Briefings about alleged weapons of mass destruction programmes have a lot to live down in the wake of the US experience in Iraq.

Everyone remembers the time in February 2003 when then US Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations armed with tape-recordings and images to make the case about Iraq's weapons activities.

The briefing – seemingly the best that the combined US intelligence agencies could come up with – turned out to be misleading to say the least. Subsequently, no weapons were found.

Perhaps mindful of the mistakes of the past, the ten-minute video released by the Bush administration in an effort to prove the Syria-North Korea connection is less ambitious and more focused.

It uses still images which, it is claimed, were taken inside the facility during its construction. There is of course no independent way to verify this.

But an initial analysis suggests that the pictures show a gas-cooled graphite moderated reactor of a very similar type to the North Korean model at Yongbyon.

Unanswered questions

At face value at least, the US evidence is compelling.

But the revelations raise as many questions as they answer.

SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

6 Sept 2007: Israel bombs site in Syria
1 Oct: Syria's President Assad tells BBC site was military
24 Oct: New satellite images taken show site bulldozed clear
24 April 2008: US claims Syrian site was nuclear reactor

What was this reactor for? There are no signs of the ancillary facilities needed if it was for power-generation.

But then, equally, there are no signs of the other elements of a bomb-making programme either – a plant to separate out the plutonium and a factory to actually assemble a weapon.

If, as the Americans say, the reactor was close to completion, where would its uranium fuel have come from?

But beyond the practical and technical questions the most pressing uncertainties are political and diplomatic.

Above all, why did the US go public now? And was this an effort to further isolate Syria or to bring additional pressure on North Korea?

Diplomatic cross-currents

The underscoring of an alleged nuclear link between Pyongyang and Damascus certainly harms both governments.

For all the talk of renewed conflict between Israel and Syria, there has also been a good deal of talk about a possible deal over the Golan Heights as well.

The signals have been complex and contradictory. But highlighting a clandestine Syrian nuclear programme now might serve to reinforce Syria's isolation.

Without US brokerage, any talk of a Syria-Israel deal is illusory.

Some analysts believe that the decision to go public on the evidence of the Syrian reactor project may be the culmination of the playing out of competing currents within the Bush Administration.

In this scenario it is a victory of the more hawkish voices, who fear that President Bush might be going soft as his term of office draws to a close. In their view, the Americans should not accept any dealings with Syria, nor should it make the concessions required to North Korea to keep alive the deal to roll back its nuclear programme.

Such arguments appear strongest with regard to North Korea. It is clear that conservative voices both inside and outside the Bush administration see the proposed agreement with North Korea as fatally flawed.

More liberal arms control experts also hold that view. "It stinks," one told me, "but perhaps the US should hold its nose in the hope of keeping the negotiating track open".

So were the intelligence revelations intended to anger Pyongyang to damage any chance of a deal?

Or was this a clearing of the air ahead of further progress? Interestingly, the chief US negotiator, Christopher Hill, has now noted that in the US view, nuclear co-operation between North Korea and Syria is no longer continuing.

During the coming weeks it will be interesting to see how things unfold. Will Syria-Israel tensions be stoked up? Will Pyongyang walk away from the negotiating table or offer up the long-delayed description of its nuclear activities?

IAEA ire

…A statement from the IAEA says that Dr ElBaradei "deplores the fact that this information was not provided to the agency in a timely manner". It is now going to investigate further.

But with the site of the alleged reactor razed, a new building constructed over it – and the Syrians unlikely to provide access – it is hard to see how far the IAEA's investigations can go.  [BBC]

US rebuked over Syria nuclear case

The head of the UN nuclear monitoring agency has criticised the US for withholding intelligence information that it says showed the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Friday also hit out at Israel for bombing the site before inspectors could investigate. ElBaradei deplores the fact that the information was not immediately passed on to the Vienna-based watchdog in accordance with the guidelines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the IAEA said in a statement.

The question regarding Syria, North Korea, Iran and (at least retrospectively) Iraq is this: What to do?
William Arkin of the Washington Post

Yesterday the Bush administration made the claim that Syria was "within weeks or months" of completion of a nuclear reactor — which of course is not nuclear weapon. Part of the problem here is the exaggeration that goes into describing (and understanding) a nuclear weapons program. Even if Syria managed to complete a plutonium production reactor, and then managed to operate it for the months would be needed to manufacture the materials it needed, and then managed to machine that plutonium, and then design and fabricate a nuclear weapon, many months if not years would go by. Such a program would be detected, proven and probably thwarted by the international community.

In other words, to bomb a single unfinished possible reactor last September was a panicked and flawed response. It did not further the ultimate goal of non-proliferation. In the war of persuasion, in the international battle to improve the rule of law, the actual goal is undermined, for the "illegality" of Syria developing nuclear weapons in the first place is based upon law, actual or societally accepted. Turning to preemption and just taking the law into one's own hands achieves nothing.

Under the NPT, the agency has a responsibility to verify any proliferation allegations in a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT," the agency said.

U.S. intel dates N.K.-Syria ties to 1997-2007

Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic
April 24, 2008 Press Release 

The government of The Syrian Arab Republic regrets and denounces the campaign of false allegations that the current United States administration continually launches against Syria claiming the presence of nuclear activity. And while Syria utterly denies these allegations, it also stresses that this campaign aims primarily to misguide the US Congress and international public opinion in order to justify the Israeli raid in September of 2007, which the current US administration may have helped execute.  It has become obvious that this maneuver on the part of this administration comes within the framework of the North Korean nuclear negotiations.

Syria calls on the US to act responsibly and desist from creating further crises in the Middle East, which already suffers from the results and repercussions of failed American policies in the region. Furthermore, the Syrian government hopes that the international community and the American public, particularly, will be more cautious and aware this time around in facing such unfounded allegations.

Bashar Al Assad: "Ardogan did relay Olmert's readiness to return the Golan." In the Qatari, Al Watan, here (Thanks FLC)

Assad said that Ankara had been mediating between Israel and Syria since April 2007, according to Zaman. In Ankara, Turkish officials neither denied nor confirmed the report.

(see "Israelis Claim Secret Agreement with US."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/23/AR2008042303128.html).

Comments (59)


 

annie said:

True that they have lost their credibility.

Their presentation would be convincing had we not been the victims of a snow job over Iraq.

April 25th, 2008, 9:02 pm

 

david mangan said:

The leftist simpletons simply don’t understand that El Baradei & his buddy Dr. Khan in Pakistan are both trying to facilitate an Islamic Bomb in the hands of anti-Israel nutjobs—pure and simple. That’s why they gave this terrorist-wannabe & the IAEA a Nobel Peace Prize, just to destroy the brand further!

This time the gun is smoking. Saddam got his WMD that he didn’t destroy out of Iraq to Syria [& Lebanon?] but the MSM needs the narrative that the BDS libtards live on.

April 25th, 2008, 9:44 pm

 

T said:

I dont agree that their presentation would have been convincing even if they had told the truth about Iraq. Too many inconsistencies and flaws in their PR campaign. Beginning the day of the attack itself.

The obvious- Why not comb the area for irradiated soil samples? Or would the (lack of) physical evidence provide too definitive a refutation of this farce?

April 25th, 2008, 9:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I think that what is in order here is a quote from the great 9th century poet, al-Buhturi.

و اشترائي العراق خطة غبن … بعد بيعي الشام بيعة وكس

My purchase of Iraq was a swindler’s ploy / after my sale of Syria, a trickster’s sale…

(Reverse the two, and you have an apt commentary on Bush-era politics, 1100 years later)

April 25th, 2008, 10:08 pm

 

Friend in America said:

A couple of corrections in the articles here –
First, it was not the CIA that encouraged Israel to make the strike. Israel came to the US in August with its evidence and its intention to take the facility out. The CIA asked for a delay so it could check its sources. Later, Israel was told by some other part of the government the US would not object if Israel proceeded (the CIA had no authority to say that to Israel and its only participation in making the decision was furnishing intelligence estimates). Check the news after Sept 7.
The BBC article is inacurate in suggesting the facility lacked ancilary support. It did. BBC did not do its research in its own files. The most important support is water. The facility was located close to the Euphrates on high ground; a water pumping station and piping had been constructed. There was a necessary highway and trucks were at the site. Whether enough electrical power had been brought onto the site I have not ascertained but I assume the Israeli intelligence, and US intelligence confirmation, was in the affirmative.
The Wash Post article fails to consider how close the Israelis believed Syria was capable of having a nuclear weapon delivery system. I cannot assess that at this time, but I asked these questions at the time the explosion at the military facility while chemical weapons were being attached to a missile – the shape of the chemical bomb is the same as a small nuclear. But, of course, there was no answer.
But we can always say we don’t trust that information but offer nothing more accurate.

April 25th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

Shual said:

“offer nothing more accurate”

Its not the job of the people to offer something. Its the job of the people to go on the agencies nerves with baseless and wild critisism.

The people will send their sons and daugthers into countries like Iraq where they will die like flies, because THEY belive in the words “democracy” and they are “patriots”. There are always agencies that think that this means that the people are stupid enough to eat anything, that the agencies are full of holy and intangible persons that can do what they want, especially to decide how much and when people should die like flies.

In Germany, I think we had some 25 affaires in this decade with our agencies. And if the 26th bashing is unfair, because the agencies tell the truth and are innocent … I have no problem with that. I already know tha the 27th time will be justified again.

April 25th, 2008, 11:19 pm

 

offended said:

David Mangan,

El Baradi is trying to facilitate an Islamic nuclear bomb?

Man, I wonder how the world can survive when an accomplice like El Baradi is kept at the helm of a very crucial organization like the IAEA.

Your comment is nothing short of racist by the way; just because El Baradi is of an Arab descent doesn’t mean he’s compromised or corrupted.

April 26th, 2008, 1:29 am

 

offended said:

QN,

بيعة و كس؟

I guess Arabs didn’t have PG or the X-rate and adult content classification back at the 9th century!

And btw, why are reading this stuff? Should you not be doing that being a high-school kid and all?
: )

April 26th, 2008, 1:36 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I just caught a half hour of Glenn Beck on CNN.

Sometimes I need to be entertained.

Tonight, I almost lost my dinner.

Beck interviewed Joel Rosenberg, the Evangelical Christian author of a series of “rapture” novels, and the founder of the Joshua Fund. What was the interview about? A literary discussion about Rosenberg’s fiction? A trenchant exposé of the wacko rapture industry that has millions of ardent fans across the United States? An analysis of the disturbing millenialist currents that underlie the Bush administration’s Middle East policies?

No.

The interview was an earnest discussion with a lunatic who believes that we are nearing the end of days, and that the geopolitical situation in the Middle East today is one which was prophesied in the Bible. According to this reading, the impending war is the War of Gog and Magog. Ahmadinejad is the anti-Christ. Israel has been reborn and the third Temple will be rebuilt imminently.

And let me remind you…

THIS WAS ON CNN PRIMETIME

Rosenberg has been invited to speak at the White House, the Pentagon, Congress, etc.

This is the world we live in.

Here’s a sample of Rosenberg on CNN during the 2006 war.

April 26th, 2008, 1:44 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

No QN, this is not the world we live in. Rather, it is the world that the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress live in. The rest of us live in the real world.

But, nevertheless, it is interesting that such a venom gets aired in prime time.

April 26th, 2008, 1:51 am

 

SOL said:

Alex

“for the monkey christians, i wish for them to be raptured – instantly. now i refer only to those christians who are monkeys.”

Again where is your sense of fairness? If AIG wrote the same thing but he substituted “Arabs” for Christians would you be as patient and understanding?

April 26th, 2008, 1:52 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

FP

I just updated my previous comment. Watch the clip… It is frightening.

April 26th, 2008, 1:58 am

 

ghassan said:

I am just baffled why Syria did not let the international press to tour the building after it was destroyed to prove the “lies” of Israel!
Why one of the Syriam minister denied that Israel was even “able” to hit the building?
Why another Syrian official said that the building is for a civilian use?
Finally, Bashar said that the building is an “unsued military building”.
Until the Syrian regime answers the above questions, I tend to believe the CIA version.

April 26th, 2008, 2:35 am

 

Enlightened said:

Ford Prefect said:

No QN, this is not the world we live in. Rather, it is the world that the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress live in. The rest of us live in the real world.

But, nevertheless, it is interesting that such a venom gets aired in prime time.

April 26th, 2008, 1:51 am

FP:

This religious fundemantelism is as just as dangerous as any Arab/Muslim strain exhibited by Al Qaeda. Picture this.

God spoke to George Bush to get the Palestinians a State
The religious right underpins the rule of Mr Bush and the establishement of the third temple to usher in the End Of days ( and they think that Ausamma is crazy?)

Mahmoud Ahminedjad felt a Ray of light when speaking to the UN.

I could go on and on and on……

When will these nutters realize, that only enlightenment and humanity towards your fellow man is the only source of salvation and godliness that really exists?

How did we let these nutters get in charge and set the agenda for humanity?

Sheesh Monkeys have more Brains!

April 26th, 2008, 2:48 am

 

why-discuss said:

Is this another US-Israeli blow to discredit Baradei and the IAEA who just announced breakthrough progresses in the Iran negotiations?
Israel and the US can attack whoever than want with impunity, and the world community stand stunned and impotent

April 26th, 2008, 3:42 am

 

SOL said:

Why does Syria have no embassy or ambassador in Beirut? Is this a recent development? And what is the official, and unofficial, explanation for this? Do other Arab nations have a diplomatic presence in Beirut?

April 26th, 2008, 5:43 am

 

Mazen said:

Nice computer graphics. And also, what clear, sharp, near perfect shots of the facility, inside and out. Man, I have difficulty achieving such results with my DSLR on a tripod.

That’s evidence?

We know it was a military facility, probably a manufacturing facility of some kind. Any kind of manufacturing would need running water, so that’s not a tell tale.

And … where would Syria get the Plutonium needed to run the reactor? We’re having enough problems importing computers and medical equipment. It wasn’t available on eBay the last time I checked.

April 26th, 2008, 6:48 am

 

ausamaa said:

Somethings always backfire. Especially when a neo-con ganag successfully hijack the White House in DC!

What are the reprecusions of all this talk about Syria “trying” to go nuclear on the Arab street? What is it gonna do to Bashar popularity? Are the neo-cons creating another Jamal Abd Al Naseer while trying to demonize Syria. Young, clean, smart, brave and indifferent to all pressures in the persiut of his country’s and the the Arab street decades-long objectives and slogans, when all other established Arab moderate leaders are appearing more unrelevant and impotatnt by the day.

First, the US is contained in Iraq, second, Hizbullah cracks the Israeli myth of a super power, third, Bashar for years does not submit to US pesseures despite all, fourth, Bashar is striving strengthen his country by building nuclear reactors in the midest of all the threats to Syria, fifth, Bush keeps threatning Iran but does nothing about that, sixth, Hamas withstands all the pressures on it and does not breakdown, seventh, the moderates from Egypt to KSA to Jordan are “confirmed” Bush allies in his attacks on Syria and have lost the respect of their people, eighth, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon are buckling under the pressures of not being able to affford a living while Syrians seem in a better shape with riots breaking out and no help from Bush and the rich moderates comes in, ninth, an area-wide poll indicates that Bashar and Nassrallah are the most popular in the Arab street!

Which side looks like they are winning in this nightmare we have been living in since the grand -but still incomplete- conquest of Iraq 2003?

Is that what you call wining the Hearts and Minds of people in the area.

Big Strategic “wins” in a real Strategic battle that was directed primarily at breaking the resisting-will of the Arab people and placing the whole area under the US military domination through a combination of democracy promisses and the now-forgotten good ol’ Shock and Awe.!!

Wouldn’t you say?

How could a new Admin in DC “fix up” things here in the future? Did Bashar al Assad throw them a carrot by saying that any future Peace negotiations have to be -even if unfortunately as he said- under US sponsorship? Is he saying, we can help you mend fences big way, if you play by better rules and we are willing to keep you floating around in the area?

Again, you tell me who is coming out as the winner in this stand off! Would somebody conduct another Poll please???

April 26th, 2008, 8:07 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

Bono,

I am reaching my limits in tolerating your ridiculous comments. Just because you had some valid points once or twice doesn’t mean you’re not talking crap. Actually, you remind me of Ahmadinajad and Qhadafi. they are such nut jobs that when they actually make sense it’s discredited due to their history of saying silly things. so stop with this anti-zionist/israeli/maronite/christian/monkeys propaganda talk or i’ll delete your comments. thanks

April 26th, 2008, 8:52 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

The leftist simpletons simply don’t understand that El Baradei & his buddy Dr. Khan in Pakistan are both trying to facilitate an Islamic Bomb in the hands of anti-Israel nutjobs—pure and simple. That’s why they gave this terrorist-wannabe & the IAEA a Nobel Peace Prize, just to destroy the brand further

David Mangan, IAEA’s nuclear inspections are lead by a Finn, Olli Heinonen. I suppose most of IAEA’s inspectors come from western countries. So claiming that IAEA is participating in creating an “Islamic Bomb” is mildly said absurd.

If IAEA can’t provide the results Israel and USA want them to provide, is it IAEA’s fault that they can not find any or very little evidence that proves US claims. When the US / Israeli intelligence is on the level what we did see in Powell’s UN performance and now in the CIA slide show no seriously taken international research organ can operate with such rumour level data.

By the way David why do pro-Israeli “rightist simpletons” not speak anything about the “Judaism” nukes?

—–

Full Text of the Syria Briefing

Q: Yeah. Is there any other – are there any other – I mean, so there is no other photographic evidence or video that shows North Koreans at the facility?

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 2: There are some – there’s none more compelling that what we showed you.


Q: And North Korean intentions? Cash?

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 1: Cash.

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 2: It’s cash.

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 1: Cash.

Q: So they weren’t going to be taking this –

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 2: We don’t –

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 1: We examined –

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 2: We examined that. We examined that hypothesis. This just wasn’t –

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 1: Probably not.

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 2: – you know, a reactor in Syria for Syria, that it may be outsourcing. And our judgment based on the overwhelming body of evidence is it was A, not B. That it was in Syria for Syria.

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 2: I’m sorry. Yeah, you’re right. [The Senior Administration Official] is correcting me. Option A was in Syria for North Korea; option B was in Syria for Syria. We think it was in Syria for Syria, although we examined both options and held it up to the light with the available evidence.

Q: How much money is it in for North Korea?

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL 2: Not at liberty to say.

Hmmmm….

April 26th, 2008, 9:14 am

 

Naji said:

الأسد: إسرائيل قصفت موقعا عسكريا وليس «نوويا»
– 25/04/2008

نفى الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد صحة التقارير الاستخباراتية الأميركية التي تزعم أن إسرائيل دمرت في شهر سبتمبر الماضي مفاعلا نوويا سورياً قبل أن يبدأ مرحلة التشغيل.
وأكد لـ الوطن في حوار شامل، أجراه الزميل أحمد علي عضو مجلس الإدارة المدير العام، سينشر كاملا بعد غد الأحد، أن الغارة العدوانية الإسرائيلية التي تمت في شهر سبتمبر الماضي دمرت موقعاً عسكرياً سورياً قيد الإنشاء وليس مفاعلا نوويا.
وتساءل الرئيس السوري قائلا: لماذا أغاروا علينا لا نعرف.. ما هي المعطيات التي كانت لديهم ولكن هم يعرفون ويرون بالأقمار الصناعية وأغاروا على موقع غير مكتمل ولم يكن يوجد فيه لا عناصر ولا أي شيء إنه فارغ فعليا.
وأضاف: هل من المعقول أن يكون هناك موقع نووي ليست فيه حماية وليس محميا بالمضادات؟!
وتساءل الرئيس بشار الأسد ساخرا: موقع نووي تحت رؤية الأقمار الصناعية في وسط سوريا بالصحراء وفي مكان مفتوح كيف يكون موقعا نوويا والأقمار الصناعية ترى كل يوم كل متر تبنيه وهو يبنى من سنوات؟!
وأضاف : هم يبحثون عن مبرر ولا يعرفون ما هو هذا الموقع، لكنهم أربكوا عندما أعلنت سوريا الخبر وأربكوا عندما رأوا نتائج العدوان على الأرض..هم قصفوا موقعا لا يوجد فيه شيء .. فما هو المبرر من عدوانهم؟
وأضاف الرئيس السوري: مرة قالوا إنه موقع نووي ومرة قالوا إنه موقع لإمداد سلاح لحزب الله .. من أين يأتي السلاح لحزب الله؟ أي أنه يأتي من تركيا إلى وسط سوريا إلى لبنان أو يأتي من العراق من قبل القوات الأميركية إلى وسط سوريا إلى لبنان.. من أين يأتي لا ندري .. هذا كلام مضحك، ثم قالوا إنهم قاموا بإنزال قوات كوماندوز وإنهم أخذوا عينات وكل هذا الكلام ليبرروا خطأهم وفشلهم في تحديد الهدف وهذه هي المشكلة.
وسيكشف الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد بعد غد الأحد في حواره الشامل العديد من الحقائق حول موقف سوريا من قضايا المنطقة المصيرية.
وفي واشنطن، قال البيت الأبيض أمس، في أعقاب جلسة مغلقة للكونغرس رتبتها المخابرات الأميركية إن كوريا الشمالية ساعدت سوريا في بناء مفاعل نووي حتى سبتمبر 2007.
ولم يأت البيت الأبيض في بيانه على الغارة الإسرائيلية، مشيرا فقط إلى أن المفاعل لحقت به أضرار لا يمكن إصلاحها. وقال نائب جمهوري إن التعاون النووي الكوري ــ السوري، مسألة خطيرة.
وأكدت المتحدثة باسم البيت الأبيض دانا بيرنيو، في بيان على ضرورة أن يكشف النظام السوري للعالم أجمع كل الملابسات حول أنشطته النووية غير المشروعة .. وقالت إن واشنطن ستحرص على إرساء آلية صارمة للتأكد من أن سائر الأنشطة النووية الكورية قد توقفت.
وفي أول رد فعل سوري، بعد الاجتماع المغلق الذي أعقبه بيان البيت الأبيض، نفى السفير السوري في واشنطن عماد مصطفى الاتهامات الأميركية .. ووصف مزاعم تقديم كوريا مساعدة نووية لسوريا بأنها سخيفة.

المصدر : الوطن القطرية

April 26th, 2008, 10:21 am

 

why-discuss said:

One wonders how lower in stupidity can the White House and the CIA go down. There should be another video made of the deadly pearls of this admnistration:
The theatrical Colin Powell presentation, The photoshop Syria nuclear “Video” together with the graveyard of the 4000+ US soldiers dead, the hundred of thousands Iraqi dead and the millions of Iraqis whose life has been broken. All this by the same bunch of an irresponsible and cynical US democratically elected admnistration. One wonders if this is the role model for democracy they try to export to the ME!

April 26th, 2008, 12:35 pm

 

ausamaa said:

From Moon of Alabama

The “Syrian Reactor Show” – a Fake?

The “video”, a slideshow of text, computer animations and photos alleged to be from a Syria nuclear reactor, has been released. The presentation has, as David Sanger in the NYT characterizes, “the feel of a cold-war-era newsreel about the Korean War.”

There are some inconsistencies in the presentation, at least for me, and I’ll discuss those along with pictures below the fold.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2008/04/the-syrian-reac.html#more

April 26th, 2008, 12:39 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

QN, Thanks for video. It is sicker than sick. It is also repulsive to all Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

So this sicko wacko is received in the White House? No wonder that every time the president goes for a colonoscopy, doctors actually try to locate his head.

But at least the anchor is cute and she thought she was talking to comedians.

April 26th, 2008, 1:06 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Enlightened,
You are correct, these nut baskets are everywhere from Texas to Tokyo. But the problem is that some of them are festering in high offices next to those red buttons.

April 26th, 2008, 1:17 pm

 

offended said:

أحمدي نجاد وبَّخ المعلم وحذره من مغبة استمرار الأسد في التفاوض مع إسرائيل

وصف موظف كبير في المديرية العامة لوزارة الخارجية الاسرائيلية, امس, اللقاء الذي جمع بين وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم والرئيس الايراني أحمدي نجاد, منذ يومين, بأنه »كان بعيدا جدا عما تتصف به لقاءات الطرفين عادة«, مشيرا الى ان الرئيس الايراني »استخدم تعابير غير ديبلوماسية, وأحيانا غير لائقة, عند الحديث مع ضيفه«.
ونقل موقع »الحقيقة« الالكتروني, عن المصدر الاسرائيلي, المعني بمتابعة الشؤون الايرانية في الوزارة, قوله ان المعلم صارح على هامش مؤتمر »أصدقاء لبنان« الذي عقد في الكويت, نظيره الايراني منوشهر متكي برسالة رئيس الوزراء الاسرائيلي الى الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد, عبر الوسيط التركي, والتي قال فيها »ان اسرائيل مستعدة للانسحاب من الجولان مقابل اتفاقية سلام مع سورية وفق قرارات الأمم المتحدة«.
ولفت المصدر الى ان المفاجىء هو أن الوزير الايراني كان أول من بادر الى الاستيضاح من نظيره السوري عن الأمر, فقد كانت ايران على علم بالتواصل السوري ¯ الاسرائيلي عبر القناة التركية من مصادرها في أنقرة, لكنها لم تكن تعتقد أن الأمور وصلت الى حد أن تبادر دمشق نفسها الى تسريب أمر الرسالة الاسرائيلية قبل الاعلان عنها رسميا, بخلاف ما يجري عادة اذ تكون اسرائيل هي المبادرة الى التسريب في حالات من هذا النوع.
واشار الى ان مبادرة سورية هذه, هي ما جعل الايرانيين يرتابون بأمر ما, ويشعرون بأن السوريين لا يطلعونهم على جميع اتصالاتهم أو تفاصيلها الحساسة, وأنهم يخفون عنهم أشياء هامة, الأمر الذي دفع الرئيس نجاد الى الاتصال بالأسد مباشرة, طالبا منه ايفاد الوزير المعلم على وجه السرعة الى ايران ليشرح حقيقة ما يجري.
وأكد المصدر الاسرائيلي, أن اللقاء بين المعلم ونجاد »لم يكن حميميا كما في العادة, بل انطوى على عبارات تحذيرية شديدة اللهجة وذات نبرة توبيخية من قبل الرئيس الايراني, حيث أكد للمبعوث السوري أن ما تقوم به القيادة السورية (لجهة المسار التفاوضي السري مع اسرائيل), يشبه ما قام به العرب خلال حرب يوليو الذين وصفتموهم بأنصاف الرجال«, لافتا الى ان نجاد »ذكر المعلم بأن واشنطن, وحتى لو كانت الحكومة الاسرائيلية صادقة في نواياها بشأن الانسحاب من الجولان, لن تسمح لها في المضي على هذا الطريق, وأن كل ما تريده وتبحث عنه هو اشعال فتنة بين سورية من جهة وايران والمقاومة (حزب الله وحماس) من جهة أخرى«.
ولاحظ المصدر الاسرائيلي »أن هناك غضبا في صفوف حزب الله, على الخلفية (الايرانية) نفسها, وصل الى حد وضع صورة أولمرت والأسد معا, وبعد دمجهما في صورة واحدة, على قناة المنار حين قامت بتغطية خبر الرسالة الاسرائيلية, وهو أمر تقوم به القناة للمرة الأولى, هذا فضلا عن فتحها باب التفاعل على موقعها الرسمي للمعارضين السوريين, و لكل من يريد تناول الأسد والنظام السوري بأقذع الألفاظ, من دون أي تحرير مسبق«.
على الصعيد نفسه, كشف المصدر أن رسالة أولمرت الى الأسد تضمنت شقا تكتم عليه السوريون, وقد علم به الايرانيون من مصادرهم التركية, وهو أن اسرائيل »تنظر لتطبيق قرارات مجلس الأمن ذات الصلة كرزمة واحدة«, لافتا الى ان الرسالة ذكرت بالاسم القرارين 1559 و 1701, وهو ما يعني ضمنا تجريد حزب الله من السلاح, ومنع تزويده به, وبتعبير آخر, فان أولمرت لن يكون لديه مانع من الحديث عن تطبيق القرارين 242 و 338 طالما اقترن ذلك بتطبيق القرار 1559 وبقية القرارات الأخرى الخاصة بلبنان.

Source Al Seyassa

April 26th, 2008, 1:41 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Alex,

I think everyone is really tired of Bondo. I know QN says *smile* *wave* *ignore* but allowing this discourse really diminshes tremendously the respectability of SC. I don’t think Bondo needs to say any more. We get it. We understand 100% what he thinks and how he thinks. Nothing is added by his repetitions. So why allow this anymore, other than perhaps to make a point of freedom of speech on the blog ??
Quite frankly my opinion is that the “sins of expression” presumably committed by AIG causing him to occasionally be given a “break” are nowhere close to the sheer demented and illusory prose that Bondo adopts.

April 26th, 2008, 1:53 pm

 

Jumpinin said:

“I am just baffled why Syria did not let the international press to tour the building after it was destroyed to prove the “lies” of Israel!
Why one of the Syriam minister denied that Israel was even “able” to hit the building?
Why another Syrian official said that the building is for a civilian use?
Finally, Bashar said that the building is an “unsued military building”.
Until the Syrian regime answers the above questions, I tend to believe the CIA version.”

The Syrians, ofcourse, are not allowed to have any secrets. Absolutely everything must be out in the open. If someone bombed a US military facility, would the US admit it was a military facility? Would they allow the press to tour the bombed site?

This incident was a threat to Syrian national security. I doubt if the US and Israel had gone to the IAEA that they would have have been cooperative but if the US and Israel decide to operate completely outside of International law, I don’t see why they should expect any cooperation at all from Syria.

If I were a member of Congress I would want to know what is every single piece of evidence that refutes the opinion just expressed in this briefing. Any detail you leave out will result in criminal proceeding for lying to Congress. This administration cannot be trusted to relay any information in reliable manner.

April 26th, 2008, 2:46 pm

 

Adel Saiid said:

It is time for the Assad Regime to face the music, and taste the rotten coffee!

April 26th, 2008, 2:46 pm

 

Murphy said:

“Above all, why did the US go public now? And was this an effort to further isolate Syria or to bring additional pressure on North Korea?”

Or even to distract attention from the embarrassing revelations – just the previous day – that Israel had once again been caught red handed spying on its paymaster? Mind you, the US media did their best to hush that one up, so no distractions may have been required. Americans would never hear the end of it if, say, Iran or Syria was caught repeatedly spying on the US – and the US doesn’t provide them with billions of dollars in charity a year.

April 26th, 2008, 3:03 pm

 

Alex said:

Sol,

You need to understand that I do spend few hours per day sleeping, working, eating, and even going out.

I am a proud Christian Sol … you are upset that I somehow liked Bondo’s anti-Christian comment above??

I really do not accept to hear from you this shock and disappointment everytime a comment slips by.

When you find one and I am obviously not here (like the past 15 hours) you can find my email by clicking on my name (ALEX, appearing in green) that will take you to my website where you can click on “contact us” on the top left of the page and that email will reach me.

HP,
I explained it many times so far, so I hope you read it this time: I tolerated AIG for many many months before I started to ban him. During those months I was only warning him and editing his agressive comments. Bondo has been here for few weeks. If you want me to be consistent, you have to tolerate Bondo for about 5 more months.

In the mean time, I’m deleting or editing many of his messages.

Bondo,

It seems you insist to not respect the minimum rules of this blog… no insulting any religion and no generalizations to demonize whole nations.

From now on I will remove ALL your previous comments of the day if you leave one agressive comment like the one you left earlier today.

Also, please limit your input to five comments per day for now. I did the same with AIG when he consistently went out of line.

April 26th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

norman said:

Print | Close this window

Syria says will help Turk PM on mediation with Israel
Sat Apr 26, 2008 2:15pm EDT
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syria will cooperate with Turkey in its mediation to relaunch peace talks between the Damascus government and Israel but the Jewish state has also to make an effort towards a deal, Syrian officials said Saturday.

President Bashar al Assad said after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in the Syrian capital that “Syria was ready to cooperate with Turkey in any effort that brings security and stability to the region”.

“The meeting focused on ways to activate a just and comprehensive peace and the president praised Turkey for the efforts in this regard,” the state news agency said.

Syrian officials said that the meeting focused on attempts by Turkey to help Syria and Israel relaunch negotiations that collapsed in 2000 over the scope of a proposed Israeli withdrawal from the Golan heights, a water-rich plateau overlooking Damascus.

Asked if the Turkish effort will succeed, one of the officials said: “There is another party to this equation,” in reference to Israel.

The meeting between Erdogan and Assad was attended by Ahmet Davutoglu, Erdogan’s influential chief foreign policy adviser, and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.

Erdogan said Syria and Israel had asked Turkey for mediation work to be launched and that such efforts would start at a low level and move up the chain if successful.

“As Turkey, we will make whatever efforts we can on this issue. In this respect, there is a request from Syria and in the same way a request from Israel,” he told a news conference upon returning to Turkey.

Erdogan earlier opened a Syrian-Turkish business forum in Damascus and said that “misunderstandings” between the countries have opened way for economic and political cooperation.

The Damascus government has been rebuilding relations with Ankara after they were strained by Damascus support for Turkish separatists a decade ago.

Erdogan said Turkey plans to remove minefields along the border with Syria that were planted to stop the movement of Kurdish rebels into Syria.

Turkey, which is a NATO member, also has good ties with Israel. Ankara has been trying to boost its diplomatic weight and expand the market for its booming exports, with $800 million of exports to Syria alone.

COMPLEXITIES

Turkey has been relaying messages between Syria and Israel for months, diplomats in the Syrian capital said. Assad told Qatar’s al-Watan newspaper last week that Turkish mediation started last April and had brought “positive results”.

Diplomats expected Erdogan to face an uphill task in bringing the two sides to formal negotiations, with Syria already saying it does not see the United States interested in overseeing the talks, a role Washington played in the 1990s.

The United States accused Syria this week of building a covert nuclear facility that it said was destroyed by an Israeli attack in September.

“The next logical step should be proxy talks between Syrian and Israeli officials, but it is complex. Israel wants a price from Syria and the current U.S. administration is not interested in seeing Syria enjoy a peace deal,” one of the diplomats said.

Syrian officials say Erdogan called Assad last week to tell him Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had told Turkey that Israel was willing to give back all of Syria’s Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria.

Assad told al-Watan that Syria was ready to negotiate with Israel through Turkey to “find common ground” for peace, but any direct talks must wait until a new U.S. president was elected.

Olmert, who has been on holiday in the Golan Heights this month, told the daily Yedioth Ahronoth last week, in answer to a question on pulling out of the Golan, that he was working to achieve a “significant move” for peace with Syria.

The issue of how much of the Golan Israel would give back scuppered a decade of talks between Syria and Israel in 2000. Israel occupied the Golan Heights in 1967 and annexed them in 1981 in a move rejected by the U.N. Security Council.

(Additional reporting by Emma Ross-Thomas in Istanbul; Editing by Peter Millership)

© Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

April 26th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

Alex said:

Murphy,

To be fair, I think the timting has been set some time ago. It is probably not related to the Israeli spying story.

I don’t think the timing carries any specific information … it is simply one more in a series of pressure tactics that this administration intends to continue applying on Syria … why? .. because “pressure works” … that’s what Mr. Bolton kept saying.

This administration is not capable of correcting a failed policy.

April 26th, 2008, 7:31 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

You see? Maybe some positive developments after all… (in’shalla). I promise you, a week from now, no one will remember anything about this nuke-stuff, Syria, or North Korea. Just like no one remembers the Kadish-man bit.

Alex,

I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t some Cheney stunt trying to pressure his boss Dubya to change his softy-attitude towards N. Korea. Syria poses no threat to world peace – N. Korea might…

April 26th, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

ausamaa said:

… so, freedom of speach and free expresssion can be BAD things after all..

Come on guys, many posts insult our intelect, deviate from both common sence and historical reality )which is more appaling than the use of confrontational words and phrases) and we just let it go by.

Why dont we read what we want, skip over what we dont like and remember that we are only readers and bloggers not real policy makers. Keep vulgarity out and the rest we can digest and live with.

Or are we going to promot democracy and free speach and all that stuff selectively? Dubbya-style?

April 26th, 2008, 7:42 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

Yes, absolutely … two birds with one stone … North Korea and Syria.

Ausamaa,

I agree, but we simply need to stick to minimum rules which work fine most of the time here, and in other discussion forums.

Remember YOU were called a rude teenager at the beginning? 🙂

It does not hurt to make an adjustment in style and try again.

April 26th, 2008, 7:49 pm

 

ausamaa said:

I loved it then. The “teenager” thing.

And I must have changed my style -if I did- because things were going more and more to my liking on the ground so I became less sensetive and less defensive!

April 26th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Back to the Landis analysis. Very good analytical questions – some easily answerable, others are problematic.

1. The photos disclosed, as well as the photos on this website shown last September, show no separation plant or weapon assembly plant at this location. Correct.
While we are delving into military weapon secrets here, these plants in other countries (including North Korea) are located off site. That is why there is interest in the explosion at a Syrian military facility while a chemical warhead was being attached to a missile under the supervision of N.K. technicians. A tentative estimate is this is where the assembly facility was to be located. Hard evidence is lacking to non governmental sources.
2. Fuel rods are availble from N.K. or Iran. N.K. is the most likely source because the N.K. military needs the money and was the technical supplier.
3. Why the intelligence disclosure now? It is not because of Syria; it is North Korea. The objective of the disclosure is to strengthen the hand of the civilians in the internal N.K. argument on whether to proceed with the non-proliferation agreement. The civilian establishment desires to do so, the military does not. With this analysis made public the civilians can now argue there is no use hiding the country’s involvement in this illicit trade any longer.

More on the motive to go public: (a) select congressmen and senators were fully briefed on this intelligence 2 months ago. The reason for the public disclosure was not a demand by Congress. (b) N.K. is negotiating with a 5 country consortium. It is safe to assume the decision to go public was fully vetted in Tokyo, Soul, Beijing, and Moscow.

On IAEA: While I have never had much confidence in the effectiveness of the IAEA except routine inspections of power plants and required filings, I do respect El Baradi for his effort to shore up the competence of his staff. In fairness to IAEA, we should recognize the IEA’s mandate does not include being the world’s aggressive watchdog – IAEA does not initiate investigations on its own. In this instance the involved parties (Syria, Israel, U.S.) have ignored the IAEA and El Baradi has rightfully complained that no complaint of violation of the treaty has been filed with the IAEA. It is not an easy position for him to be in.

I concur the plant was Syria for Syria, not Syria for N. K. (i.e., a plant to hide N.K.’s nuclear materials). Last fall I raised the question whether it was Syria for Iran. That seems to be ruled out.

ALTERNATE OPINION: There are several on this web site, whose opinion I value highly, believe that this entire story has elements of fiction, starting with the basic premise that the plant was a reactor near completion. I respect their views. Because of governmental secrecy none of us are able to come up with a definitive account. It will be up to historians in decades to come. But it is a good story, it tests our analysis and reasoning capabilities, and asks us to respect differing opinions. We also recognize that world wide this event is on the radar screen of all who are concerned with nuclear proliferation, whether fiction or not. This is a great web site and Josh is to be commended. Alex too.

April 26th, 2008, 7:58 pm

 

Shai said:

Friend in America,

I’ve now seen a handful of “expert” opinion on what was or wasn’t attacked in Eastern Syria last fall. But I haven’t seen many who suggested that regardless of what was there, the consequences for Syria are the same. Namely, nothing. If anything, Syria can only gain from this, because if indeed there as a reactor, Israel will surely feel a certain urge to make peace just a tiny bit faster now. After all, if Syria was “this close” to producing plutonium, in this highly visible plant, who can guarantee that it can’t do the same once again, or isn’t already? Bottom line is, if you’re not going to make peace, don’t expect your enemies to sit by and wait for you. They might just be getting ready for the worst case scenario. I bet a week or two from now, no one remembers whether it was a North Korean reactor in Syria, or a Syrian reactor in North Korea, or a hot dog stand in Tokyo. But it sure sold a lot of papers…

April 26th, 2008, 8:10 pm

 

ausamaa said:

The only question that keeps hunting me about the Syrian reactor thing is why was the Israelies and the US very tight-lipped about what was hit then. Why all the suspense? It only indicates to me that they may not know what it was, but you do not go bombing unknown targets, so that is a very simplistic explanation of why they kept mute about it. Again. I think that they were only intimidating Syria, trying to draw it into a confrontation, or trying to test its air defense alertness and capabilities.

This Video Presentation stuff is a subject for Analysts to determine if they can. Remember Gen. Powell UN breifing to the UN about Iraq’s WMD? The one that fooled Powell himself? BTW, why doesn’t anyone have any supporting stuff such as intercepted comunications, documents, human-intel tidbits about all this? And dont tell me that it is because doing so may expose their inside sources in Syria or Korea if they realeased such confirming materials. It is nuclear stuff after all!

For me, I am just looking at when, how and what for, such an air-raid took place and how the affair publicity was so “elaboretly” handeled by Israel and the US. for me, it is Easier to figure out psy-ops targets and objectives than to determine the technical authenticity of a Bush-team-generated nuclear reactors animated presentations months after the act took place.

Anyway, what difference did the whole affair have on the way things are progressing on the ground so far?

April 26th, 2008, 8:29 pm

 

Friend in America said:

SHAI
– I see the major long term consequence to Syria is loss of credibility, whether it was a reactor or not, and in order to achieve its diplomacy goals Syria badly needs credibility. If the plant was nuclear, they are in violation of the non-proliferation treaty; if it was not, they passed up the p.r. opportunity of the decade. Was the treaty violation the motive for denying, keeping the plant off limits to the press and foreigners, then bulldozing the evidence and constructing a simple building in its place? Maybe but only Damascus can answer that. If as Syria says it was not a reactor in construction, Syria may have other motives for secrecy and destroying the evidence but if so they escape my reasoning.
– I think Israel’s motive was a perceived threat to its national security. After the strike the government kept silent because it did not want to seem gloating – the act tells the story to Damascus.
– Nothing prevents Syria from trying again, but this event reveals how hard it is to construct a reactor in secret (if it was one).
– This event may fade from public attention in a few weeks if it has not already, but it will not be forgotten by those involved in nuclear non proliferation world wide. And, do not overlook the concerns of the other Gulf countries.

April 26th, 2008, 8:39 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

That is exactly what i was thinking , I do not know if that building was a nuclear reactor under construction or not , I actually hope so and hope that Israel thinks that it was not the only one and there are others better hidden ,

That might make Israel more eager to make peace before radical elements take over and refuse any kind of peace .

April 26th, 2008, 8:47 pm

 

ausamaa said:

“After the strike the (Israeli) government kept silent because it did not want to seem gloating”

…and why did they chose to “gloat” NOW, one may inquire?

April 26th, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

it tests our analysis and reasoning capabilities. Oh, Fox and CNN are experts at trying us, trust me, on a daily basis. So many good stories, so little truth.

April 26th, 2008, 8:50 pm

 

norman said:

Ausamma,

Do you think they planing a war ?.and they want an excuse.

April 26th, 2008, 8:57 pm

 

ausamaa said:

I seriously doubt it. They dont want war. If they wanted one, they had many other execuses and opportunities to start one. Planning one? I am sure they have ready Plans for everything. But how good was their planning in July 2006 anyway. But this another point.

But they do not want a war.

Israel does not know how far things can go or what to really expect if it launches a war. Neither it is ready to pay a possible steep price. And what the heck for anyway?

The US is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and its military capabilities are stretched to the max according many military think tanks. And again, the consequences of launching a war against Iran is uncalcuable to the Us and unacceptable to the rest of the world. And if you have blundered two campagains in Iraq and Afghanistan, would the wise -and influential- ones in the US trust you to drag them into a bigger hole?

So, I dont think they need this as an excuse to plan and launch a war because they do not want a war to begin with.

April 26th, 2008, 9:29 pm

 

norman said:

Aussama,

You assume that they are wise, do you really think so?.

So far they have not planned well.

April 26th, 2008, 9:49 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Ausamma – I do not understand your question.

April 26th, 2008, 9:52 pm

 

Friend in America said:

From yesterday’s Global Security Newswire:

Syrian Reactor Was Not Peaceful, White House Says

Syria was within weeks or months of finishing a nuclear reactor that had no peaceful applications before Israel destroyed the facility last September, senior U.S. intelligence officials told Congress yesterday (see GSN, April 24).

In a series of briefings to congressional committees, Bush administration officials said North Korea began advising Syria on the nuclear project as early as 1997 and construction began in 2001.

Israel acquired more definitive intelligence a year ago and destroyed the facility in a Sept. 6 air raid.

“It was nearing operational capability,” said one of the senior intelligence officials who briefed reporters yesterday (Robin Wright, Washington Post, April 25).

The timing of yesterday’s disclosure was intended to press Syria to admit its nuclear ambitions and to pressure North Korea to adhere to its denuclearization obligations as laid out in a six-nation deal agreed last year, according to U.S. officials (see related GSN story, today).

In addition, officials feared that an earlier release of the information could spur violence between Israel and Syria, the Washington Times reported.

“Our first concern was to prevent conflict and broader confrontation in the Middle East,” said one of the senior intelligence officials. “Syria would feel great pressure to retaliate,” the official said, but “as time has passed, that assessment has receded” (Gertz/Carter, Washington Times, April 25).

Among other data shared with lawmakers was a video showing images taken from inside the Syrian facility that analysts said was clearly a gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor, the same type that North Korea has used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons (Wright, Washington Post).

“We are convinced, based on a variety of information, that North Korea assisted Syria’s covert nuclear activities,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday. “We have good reason to believe that reactor … was not intended for peaceful purposes” (White House release, April 24).

Bolstering this view was the absence of electrical generation equipment and the overall secrecy of the project, the Post reported.

Still, the intelligence officials acknowledged that the site lacked facilities that would logically accompany a nuclear weapons site, such as a reprocessing plant to separate plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel.

The incomplete nature of the site contributed to intelligence agencies assigning only “low confidence” to the idea that Syria was seeking nuclear weapons, the officials said.

One nonproliferation expert agreed with that cautionary stance.

The evidence that the site was a reactor was “compelling,” said David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security. “But the lack of other facilities, such as [a] plutonium separation plant, has to give pause before accusing Syria of having an active nuclear weapons program.”

The acquisition of additional intelligence was hampered by Syria using a controlled demolition to raze the site one month after the Israeli attack, the officials said.

That attack was conducted with U.S. foreknowledge, but not its approval, according to a senior administration official.

“Israel made the decision to attack,” the official said. “It did so without any so-called green light from us. None was asked for and none was given” (Hess/Riechmann, Associated Press/International Herald Tribune, April 25).

North Korea has suspended its nuclear cooperation with Syria, said Christopher Hill, the State Department official leading the U.S. delegation to the six-nation talks on North Korean denuclearization.

“It is the judgment of the United States that there is not an ongoing cooperation with Syria in this area,” Hill said. “We will deal with this issue as we do with many other issues in the six parties” (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, April 25).

Meanwhile, top U.N. nuclear official Mohamed ElBaradei complained today that his International Atomic Energy Agency only yesterday received the U.S. information on the alleged Syrian reactor. He also criticized the Israeli attack.

“The director general deplores the fact that this information was not provided to the agency in a timely manner,” the agency said in a statement.

“The agency will treat this information with the seriousness it deserves and will investigate the veracity of the information. Syria has an obligation under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA to report the planning and construction of any nuclear facility to the agency.

“The director general views the unilateral use of force by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the nonproliferation regime,” the release says (International Atomic Energy Agency release, April 25).

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April 26th, 2008, 10:02 pm

 

T said:

From the Chief Iraqi UNSCOM weapons inspector- who was one of the few accurate experts on the status of Iraqi WMDs- beforehand.

Evidence-based Bombing

By publishing intelligence on a possible Syrian nuclear facility, the US has endorsed after the fact Israel’s illegal use of force in attacking it

By Scott Ritter
26/04/08 “The Guardian” — -It looks as if Israel may, in fact, have had reason to believe that Syria was constructing, with the aid and assistance of North Korea, a facility capable of housing a nuclear reactor. The United States Central Intelligence Agency recently released a series of images, believed to have been made from a videotape obtained from Israeli intelligence, which provide convincing, if not incontrovertible, evidence that the “unused military building” under construction in eastern Syria was, in fact, intended to be used as a nuclear reactor. Syria continues to deny such allegations as false.

On the surface, the revelations seem to bolster justification not only for the Israeli air strike of September 6 2007, which destroyed the facility weeks or months before it is assessed to have been ready for operations, but also the hard-line stance taken by the administration of President George W Bush toward both Syria and North Korea regarding their alleged covert nuclear cooperation. In the aftermath of the Israeli air strike, Syria razed the destroyed facility and built a new one in its stead, ensuring that no follow-up investigation would be able to ascertain precisely what had transpired there.

Largely overlooked in the wake of the US revelations is the fact that, even if the US intelligence is accurate (and there is no reason to doubt, at this stage, that it is not), Syria had committed no crime, and Israel had no legal justification to carry out its attack. Syria is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and under the provisions of the comprehensive safeguards agreement, is required to provide information on the construction of any facility involved in nuclear activity “as early as possible before nuclear material is introduced to a new facility”. There is no evidence that Syria had made any effort to introduce nuclear material to the facility under construction.

While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global watchdog responsible for the implementation of nuclear safeguards inspections, has pushed for the universal adherence to a more stringent safeguards standard known as the “additional protocol of inspections”, such a measure is purely voluntary, and Syria has refused to sign up to any such expansion of IAEA inspection activity until such time as Israel signs the NPT and subjects its nuclear activities to full safeguards inspections. While vexing, the Syrian position is totally in keeping with its treaty obligations, and so it is Syria, not Israel, that was in full conformity with international law at the time of Israel’s September 6 2007 attack.

The United States and Israel contend that the Syrian-North Korean construction project was part of a covert nuclear weapons programme. However, even the United States admits that the facility under construction in Syria lacked any reprocessing capacity, meaning its utility for producing plutonium for a nuclear bomb was nil. Rather than serving as the tip of the iceberg for a nuclear weapons programme, it seems more likely that the Syrian facility was intended for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Following the same path as Iran, Syria most probably was positioning itself to present the world with a fait acompli, noting that the current US-Israeli posture concerning the regime in Damascus would not enable Syria to pursue and complete any nuclear programme declared well in advance. By building the reactor in secret, Syria would be positioned to declare the completed facility to the IAEA prior to the introduction of any nuclear material, and then hope to hide behind the shield of the IAEA in order to prevent any Israeli retaliation.

But this is all speculation. By bombing the Syrian facility, Israel not only retarded any Syrian nuclear ambition, peaceful or otherwise, but also precluded a full, definitive investigation into the matter by the international community. Perhaps fearful that Syrian adherence to the NPT would underscore its own duplicity in that regard, the Israeli decision to bomb Syria not only allowed the Syrian effort to be defined as weapons-related (an unproven and unlikely allegation), but by extension reinforced the Israeli (and American) contention that the nuclear activity in Iran was weapons-related as well.

The international debate that has taken place about the Syrian facility shows how successful the Israeli gambit, in fact, was, since there is virtually no discussion about the fact that Israel violated international law in attacking, without provocation, a sovereign state whose status as a member of the United Nations ostensibly affords it protection from such assault. The American embrace of the Israeli action, and the decision to produce intelligence information about the nature of the bombed facility at this late stage in the game, only reinforces the reality that the United States has turned its back on international law in the form of arms control and non-proliferation agreements.

The Bush administration seeks to use the alleged Syrian nuclear facility as a lynchpin in making its arguments against not only the Iranian nuclear programme, but also to scuttle the current discussions with North Korea over its nuclear weapons activities. Having embraced pre-emptive war as a vehicle to pursue its unilateral policy of regime change in Iraq (and having sold that conflict based upon hyped-up weapons of mass destruction charges), it should come as no surprise that the Bush administration would seek to support, and repeat, past patterns of behaviour when pursuing similar policies with Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Truth, and the adherence to international law, have never been an impediment to implementation of American policy objectives under the Bush administration.

April 26th, 2008, 10:53 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I am scratching my head often these days.

We are living in strange times. Israel’s airstrike and the nuclear business is odd enough. But it makes even less sense given that Syria and Israel have been making very public statements about pursuing peace in the near term.

Can somebody explain this? (Indeed has anyone sought to explain it)?

In the meantime, Jumblatt has openly broken ranks with March 14 about joining Berri’s dialogue, so he must know something… He seems to be single-handedly trying to change the majority’s stance vis-a-vis a compromise with the opposition.

Entropy? Chaos as usual? Or is there some hidden logic that we are all missing?

April 27th, 2008, 12:08 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

A few interesting discussions on the main Aounist blog, FPM Forum.

1. Analysis of the likely electoral outcomes of two different laws, i.e. 1960 vs. a proportional law like that of the Boutros Commission. (The first gives the opposition 59 seats; the latter would net 68). In either case, we’re not talking about a landslide: scenario 1 is not even a majority, and scenario 2 is a very slim one. Compromise will be the order of the day, no matter what.

2. FPM attitudes about Hizbullah’s arms. Interestingly, the recurrent theme is: we want them to disarm and integrate, but not before the Palestinian camps are disarmed.

3. Brief discussion of Saad Hariri’s off-the-cuff statement about his support for the 1960 law and his pledge NOT to nationalize the Palestinians. The originator of the thread says that he believes that if the majority can commit to these two points, the opposition would elect Suleiman as president. The nationalization issue is the big one for the FPMers, it seems.

April 27th, 2008, 12:49 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I think I already asked “Friend of America” a day or two back to tell us something about his sources. Personally, I think he is confabulating them.

April 27th, 2008, 2:04 am

 

Shai said:

QN,

I’ll tell you Barak’s side in this (no, not Barack Obama, Ehud Barak… 🙂 )

The Friday of the strike, he was at some dinner party, with a bunch of friends some of whom obviously knew a bit about “who done it”. Everyone understood that this attack was a huge risk (Syria could have retaliated), and everyone also knew what you just said, namely that both nations had been sending peaceful messages across to one another. So someone dared ask the question “Ehud, are we now closer to peace with Syria?” (sarcastically with a hint of criticism). Apparently, Barak hesitated a bit, then responded with “… I guess we are closer, yes.” and a smile. Interpretation? If he indeed believed this was a reactor about to produce plutonium, and if he truly feared that acquiring this capability would change the regional balance of power to such extent that it would not be clear whether Israel and Syria could or would make peace in the near future, then from his point of view, the attack helped maintain the conditions best suited for peace (as he saw them). From his point of view, he was doing a service both to the security of his nation, and to peace…

April 27th, 2008, 3:56 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

damn funny thing about that transcript – it has no apostrophes.

April 27th, 2008, 4:19 am

 

Procopius said:

For what it’s worth, on Sept. 6, 2007, there was an international archaeology team working in Halabbiye-Zenobia, less than 3 km away from the bombed site, on the other bank of the river : you can check it out on GoogleEarth. Before the strike, they never noticed anything unusual, and they could walk up and down both sides of the river without any trouble. That doesn’t sound like a heavy guarded top secret area to me.

April 27th, 2008, 7:27 am

 

Global Voices amin´ny teny malagasy » Siria:Vaovao mipoapoaka momba ny niokleary said:

[…] Tsy nampandry saina ireo mpitoraka blaogy siriana ny votoatin’ilay vaovao, saiky ny rehetra mihitsy no nahatsiaro ny fomba nataon’i Collin Powell ho fampahafantarana ny ONU momba ireo WMD nolazaina fa nisy tao Iraka nefa tsy hita velively hatramin’izao. Joshua Landis no mandravona ny fanehoan-kevitr’ireo mpampahalala vaovao maro manodidina iny vaovao iny no sady mitondra fanamarihana momba ny politikan’i Amerika “Daroka -aloha-avy eo-manontany” […]

April 27th, 2008, 3:44 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I just downloaded the transcript again, since I hadn’t bothered to store a copy, and now it has all the apostrophes. I swear it didn’t have them when I first looked at it!

April 27th, 2008, 6:41 pm

 

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