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Shocker: CIA To Outline N. Korea – Syria Ties

[As posted earlier by BillK on the “Other News” thread.]

In the “wow, this actually made the paper?” department, from the Los Angeles Times:

This January 2008 photo shows new construction at a disputed Syrian site that Israeli and American analysts judged to be a partially built nuclear reactor.

CIA to describe North Korea-Syria nuclear ties

Officials will tell Congress members this week that North Korea was helping Syria build a reactor last year when it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, a U.S. official says.

By Paul Richter and Greg Miller

WASHINGTON — 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…

U.S. officials provided little explanation of why they want to brief lawmakers on the North Korean-Syrian links after declining to do so for months.

A senior Senate aide said the timing appears driven by a Bush administration desire to apprise committee members of the latest intelligence on the reactor before releasing some of the information.

I have this strong impression the reason they want to brief the committee is they want to say something publicly,” said the aide, who discussed contacts with the administration only on condition of anonymity…

After a breakthrough last year in which North Korea agreed to shut down its only functioning nuclear production facility, it was rewarded with fuel oil and the release of frozen bank funds. But talks stalled after the Bush administration demanded that Pyongyang provide a full description of its past nuclear activities by a December 2007 deadline.

Shifting course, U.S. officials said two weeks ago that it would be sufficient for the North Koreans to acknowledge U.S. concerns about their nuclear activities. In return, administration officials would remove North Korea from the stigmatizing U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism and Pyongyang would no longer be subject to U.S. trade sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act, a 1917 law

[BillK adds:] But nah, no need to worry about North Korea, we’re the focus of evil in the world.

Let’s see, they were helping Syria to build a reactor but by easing sanctions on them, they won’t do it again.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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