Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CIA to disclose Syrian/NorK nuclear ties

Take it with a grain of salt, considering the fact the CIA is disclosing this (and their intelligence hasn't been up to snuff for some time now). HT to Captain Ed; From the LA Times:

CIA officials will tell Congress on Thursday that North Korea had been helping Syria build a plutonium-based nuclear reactor, a U.S. official said, a disclosure that could touch off new resistance to the administration's plan to ease sanctions on Pyongyang.

The CIA officials will tell lawmakers that they believe the reactor would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons but was destroyed before it could do so, the U.S. official said, apparently referring to a suspicious installation in Syria that was bombed last year by Israeli warplanes.

The CIA officials also will say that though U.S. officials have had concerns for years about ties between North Korea and Syria, it was not until last year that new intelligence convinced them that the suspicious facility under construction in a remote area of Syria was a nuclear reactor, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing plans for the briefing.

By holding closed, classified briefings for members of several congressional committees, the administration will break a long silence on North Korean-Syrian nuclear cooperation and on what it knows about last year's destruction of the Syrian facility. Nonetheless, it has been widely assumed for months that many in the administration considered the site a nuclear installation.

It was not clear Tuesday how recently North Korea may have been aiding Syria. But disclosure of the relationship to the committees is likely to bring criticism from conservative lawmakers who already believe that U.S. overtures to North Korea have offered the government in Pyongyang too many benefits without assurances that it will disclose the extent of its nuclear arms effort or ultimately surrender its weapons.

The Israelis don't do missions in hostile nations unless there was a solid reason for such an act. We knew that something was up when they hit the Syrian facility. Speculation ran from the site either being the "dumping ground" for Saddam's missing WMDs, or a nuclear facility, given that Israeli intelligence confirmed that a North Korean ship had offloaded some materials just prior to the strike. It now appears that were were right with the initial speculation that this was a nuclear site.

Why disclose it now? Possibly to openly apply pressure to the North Koreans to come clean, completely, before moving forward with the negotiations going on right now. Up to this point, North Korea hasn't released it's proliferation information in it's entirety, and we know they have worked to share nuclear technology. With the collapse of the AQ Khan network, his "clients" have continued to work with one another. If Kim Jong-Il doesn't get the memo, the information provided in these briefings might provide us with enough leverage to force North Korea to comply.

Publius II


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