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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Jun 13th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Government Releases Images of Syrian Reactor - w/Exclusive USGov Video
Government Releases Images of Syrian Reactor - w/Exclusive USGov Video PDF Print E-mail
Written by CRNews, NYTimes, AP, US GOV   
Friday, 25 April 2008


White House says Syria 'must come clean' about nuclear work

Government Releases Images of Syrian Reactor
April 25, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration released detailed photographic images on Thursday to support its assertion that the building in Syria that Israel destroyed in an airstrike last year was a nuclear reactor constructed with years of help from North Korea.

The administration said it withheld the pictures for seven months out of fear that Syria could retaliate against Israel and start a broader war in the Middle East.

The photographs taken inside the reactor before it was destroyed in an air raid on Sept. 6 clearly show the rods that control the heat in a nuclear reactor, one of many close engineering similarities to a reactor halfway around the world where North Korea produced the fuel for its nuclear arsenal.

While the photographs were not dated, some taken on the ground seemed to go back to before 2002.

But after a full day of briefing members of Congress, two senior intelligence officials acknowledged that the evidence had left them with no more than “low confidence” that Syria was preparing to build a nuclear weapon. They said that there was no sign that Syria had built an operation to convert the spent fuel from the plant into weapons-grade plutonium, but that they had told President Bush last year that they could think of no other explanation for the reactor.

Among the photographs shown to members of Congress and reporters on Thursday was one of the manager of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear plant with the director of Syria’s nuclear agency. A car in the background has Syrian license plates.

When asked about North Korea’s motivation for the project, one of the senior intelligence officials said simply, “Cash.” He refused to say how much.

The revelation of the plant’s existence is not new; The New York Times reported in mid-October that Israel had brought the United States evidence that the Syrian building was a partly constructed reactor. But no more than a handful of lawmakers had ever been briefed on the attack.

A senior administration official, briefing reporters with the help of the two senior intelligence officials, said for the first time that the White House had extensive discussions with Israel before the airstrike in September. The official said the White House had raised the possibility of confronting Syria with a demand that it dismantle the reactor or face the possibility of an attack.

But that idea apparently never gained traction with the Israelis or some in the administration, and in the end, the official said, Israel cited satellite evidence to declare that the Syrian reactor constituted “an existential threat” to Israel because it might soon be ready for operation. The senior administration official, who was a central player in Mr. Bush’s deliberations, added that Israel’s attack proceeded “without a green light from us.”

“None was asked for, none was given,” the official added.

While one of the senior intelligence officials said that the United States agreed that Syria was “good to go” in turning on the reactor, it would have been years before it could have produced weapons fuel.

It is unclear how the Syrians planned to get the uranium they needed. Once they got it, the reactor would have had to run for roughly 18 months before the fuel was “cooked.” And then to turn it into weapons-grade plutonium, it would require reprocessing, presumably outside the country unless Syria found a way to build its own plant.

The announcement on Thursday closes one chapter of a secretive intelligence and military operation and opens several others that will play out over the remainder of the Bush presidency.

The crucial question now is how the North Koreans will react. Some officials said that they hoped the announcement would embarrass the North into admitting to nuclear proliferation activities, while others said it could prompt the North to walk away from the negotiating table — and collapse the deal Mr. Bush was hoping to reach by the end of his presidency. In return for North Korea’s declaration of all its nuclear activities, the United States would lift sanctions and begin to negotiate the North Koreans’ reward for turning over their fuel and weapons.

The announcement also raises the possibility of new tensions with Syria, as the White House on Thursday accused the Syrian government of a “cover-up” consistent with a government that “supports terrorism, takes action that destabilizes Lebanon” and allows militants to enter Iraq.

Last year, Mr. Bush ordered that knowledge of the Syrian project be limited to a few crucial officials, and he put the C.I.A. in charge of marshaling the assets of other intelligence agencies.

Still, the Americans were somewhat blindsided. By their own account, they suspected that North Korea and Syria were at work together in Syria, but only identified the plant at Al Kibar, named for the nearest town, after they received photos of the interior of the plant last spring from Israel, American and Israeli officials said last year.

Only selected pictures were released by the intelligence agencies on Thursday, including a video that combined still photos and drawings, and had a voice-over that gave the presentation the feel of a cold-war-era newsreel about the Korean War. In fact, it was intended in part, officials said, to try to draw that war — in which the United States and North Korea never signed a peace treaty — to a close.

But inside the administration, the battle over whether to try to strike a deal with North Korea or keep it under sanctions in hopes of setting off the collapse of its government continues into the last months of Mr. Bush’s term. Representative Peter Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan, expressed annoyance on Thursday that the administration waited seven months to brief Congress.

“I think many people believe that we were used today by the administration,” he said.

At the C.I.A., Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the agency’s director, told employees on Thursday that they should “take heart because our team effort on the Al Kibar reactor is a case study in rigorous analytic tradecraft, skillful human and technical collection, and close collaboration.”

But even this victory, some experts note, raises questions about the agency’s focus. The reactor was built within 100 miles of the Iraqi border yet never identified even though the administration was searching for any form of such arms programs in Iraq.

Moreover, even some senior officials of the administration acknowledge that they are likely to leave Mr. Bush’s successor with a North Korea with roughly 10 nuclear weapons or fuel for weapons, up from the one or two weapons it had when Mr. Bush took office in 2001.

“I’d say the score is Kim Jong-il eight, and Bush zero,” said Graham Allison, a Harvard professor and author of “Nuclear Terrorism,” who was in Washington on Thursday to testify about Iran’s nuclear program. “And if you can build a reactor in Syria without being detected for eight years, how hard can it be to sell a little plutonium to Osama bin Laden?”




Government Releases Images of Syrian Reactor


April 24, 2008
A timeline of North Korea's nuclear weapons activities
Filed at 9:30 p.m. ET

Timeline of North Korea's nuclear weapons activities:

-- 1994: North Korea and the United States sign an agreement under which the North shuts down its plutonium-based nuclear reactor in exchange for help building two ''light water'' nuclear reactors for producing electricity.

-- Sept. 17, 1999: President Clinton agrees to first major easing of economic sanctions against North Korea since the Korean War's end in 1953.

-- Jan. 29, 2002: President Bush labels North Korea, Iran and Iraq an ''axis of evil.''

-- Oct. 4, 2002: North Korea tells visiting U.S. delegation it has a uranium enrichment program, Washington says.

-- Nov. 21, 2002: U.S.-led consortium says it is suspending construction of light water reactors.

-- Dec. 28, 2002: North Korea orders U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country.

-- Jan. 11, 2003: North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

-- Feb. 26, 2003: North Korea is reported to have restarted Yongbyon reactor, which U.S. officials say was designed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons but which North Korea maintains is for energy production.

-- Aug. 27-29, 2003: North Korea joins first round of six-nation nuclear talks in Beijing, which include China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S., which continue periodically over the next several years.

-- Feb. 10, 2005: North Korea announces it has nuclear weapons.

-- July 5, 2006: North Korea launches seven missiles into the Sea of Japan, prompting a U.N. Security Council resolution to condemn it.

-- Oct. 9, 2006: North Korea says it has conducted its first-ever nuclear test.

-- Oct. 14, 2006: U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution imposing wide-ranging economic and diplomatic sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test.

-- Feb. 13, 2007: North Korea agrees at six-nation talks on initial steps to disarmament.

-- July. 14, 2007: North Korea says it has shut down its Yongbyon plutonium-reactor. IAEA inspectors arrive in Pyongyang.

-- Aug. 17, 2007: The IAEA says its agents have confirmed the shutdown of four nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and an unfinished nuclear power plant at Taechon.

-- Sept. 2, 2007: The U.S. says North Korea agreed during talks in Geneva to declare and disable its nuclear programs by the end of the year -- the first time it has offered a timeline.

-- Sept. 6, 2007: Israeli warplanes bomb a Syrian nuclear reactor site allegedly built with North Korean design help.

-- Oct. 3, 2007: The six parties agree that North Korea will provide a complete list of its nuclear programs and disable its facilities and its main reactor by Dec. 31.

-- Nov. 5, 2007, North Korea starts disabling the Yongbyon reactor under the watch of U.S. experts.

-- Dec. 31, 2007: North Korea misses its deadline for declaring all its nuclear programs.

-- Feb. 22, 2008: North Korea opens its main nuclear reactor in Yongbyon to foreign media for the first time. American researchers say North Korean officials told them they had slowed the removal of fuel rods because the United States and other nations fell behind in supplying aid promised under the disarmament deal.

-- March 28, 2008: North Korea test-fires a barrage of short-range missiles in an apparent angry response to the new South Korean government's tougher stance on Pyongyang.

-- April 24, 2008: The White House breaks its silence and says North Korea assisted Syria's secret nuclear program and that the nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel was not intended for ''peaceful purposes.''


April 24, 2008
Some quotes on alleged North Korean nuclear aid to Syria
Filed at 8:24 p.m. ET

Some quotes on the Syrian nuclear reactor allegedly built with North Korean help and the briefing to lawmakers on Thursday about the reactor.


''We are convinced, based on a variety of information, that North Korea assisted Syria's covert nuclear activities. We have good reason to believe that reactor, which was damaged beyond repair on Sept. 6 of last year, was not intended for peaceful purposes. ... The Syrian regime must come clean before the world regarding its illicit nuclear activities. The Syrian regime supports terrorism, takes action that destabilizes Lebanon, allows the transit of some foreign fighters into Iraq, and represses its own people. If Syria wants better relations with the international community, it should put an end to these activities.'' -- White House press secretary Dana Perino.


''We said it many times in the past. There were no Syrian-North Korean cooperation whatsoever in Syria, and we deny these rumors, and this is what I can say with this regard. ... Syria has joined the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) and puts all its facilities under the safeguards agreements of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Only exception in the area is Israel. Israel has eight nuclear reactors on a piece of land not exceeding the size of 15,000 square kilometers. Israel has between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads. Israel is benefiting from the whole Western experience and assistance with this regard.'' -- Syria's United Nations Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari.


''This has happened a while ago and the timing of it is interesting. I do think it is just another example where members of Congress, especially those on the committees of jurisdiction, should have been briefed long before now. And I would hope that it just focuses on the need for us to have some success at the six-party talks, for us to elevate the priority of stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In terms of the action taken by the administration, I find the timing curious. I will ask about it.'' -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.


''Syria's pursuit of a nuclear program -- with North Korea's help -- is evidence of the growing dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of state sponsors of terrorism. Nuclear weapons in the hands of the (Bashar) Assad regime would present a clear and present danger not just to Israel, but to the region, and the entire world.'' -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.


''Now Pyongyang is refusing to disclose full details of their own nuclear programs and has actively aided another dangerous regime acquire the wherewithal to develop nuclear weapons in the future -- a regime that directly threatens the survival of the state of Israel. These activities stand in clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and deserve the widest possible condemnation by the international community.'' -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.


''Reports that North Korea -- over a period of several years -- helped Syria build a nuclear reactor make clear that any deal to eliminate North Korea's nuclear programs must also stop its proliferation activities and include vigorous verification. Unless we are able to confirm that North Korea is no longer in the nuclear proliferation business, the United States should not lift sanctions on the North.'' -- Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.


''It happened eight months later than what it should have been. ... By waiting so long to brief the Intelligence Committee and other committees on the Hill, the administration has made it much more difficult that if they do reach some kind of an agreement with the six-party talks, if they reach some other kinds of agreements, it will be much harder for them to go through the Congress and get these agreements approved because they have really damaged the relationship between Congress and the administration. And that's a big disappointment.'' -- Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.


''The publicly reported details about nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Syria are disturbing. But I don't think they provide a reason to suspend discussions with the North Koreans. ... In the past year or so, the administration's North Korea policy has pursued a more productive path: taking steps toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in the context of the six-party talks. We should stick with that path, and ensure that the North Koreans do not stray from it.'' -- Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif.


April 25, 2008
White House says Syria 'must come clean' about nuclear work
Filed at 2:37 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House said Thursday that North Korea's secret work on a nuclear reactor with Syria was ''a dangerous and potentially destabilizing development for the world,'' raising doubts about Pyongyang's intention to carry through with a promised disclosure of its nuclear activities.

Seven months after Israel bombed the reactor, the White House broke its silence and said North Korea assisted Syria's secret nuclear program and that the destroyed facility was not intended for ''peaceful purposes.''

Top U.S. intelligence officials who briefed reporters said they had high confidence in the judgment that North Korea had aided Syria with its nuclear program and the intention was to produce plutonium. But they claimed only low confidence for the conclusion that it was meant for weapons development, in part because there was no reprocessing facility at the site -- something that would be needed to extract plutonium from spent reactor fuel for use in a bomb.

The Bush administration's assertions could undermine six-party negotiations to try to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea. But a senior administration official told reporters he hoped the disclosure would instead provide leverage to officials trying to get an accurate accounting of North Korea's nuclear and proliferation activities.

The White House issued a two-page statement after lawmakers were given details about the reactor in a series of briefings on Capitol Hill that included a video presentation of intelligence information the administration contends establishes a strong link between North Korea's nuclear program and the bombed Syrian site. The briefing also included still photographs that showed a strong resemblance between specific features of the plant and one near Yongbyon in North Korea.

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the revelations make it clear that any deal to eliminate North Korea's nuclear programs must also stop its proliferation activities and include vigorous verification. But he said the information in the briefings was not a cause to end the talks.

''To the contrary, it underscores the need for pursuing the talks, which remain our best chance to convince North Korea to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and to stop proliferation,'' Biden said.

The White House said the International Atomic Energy Agency also was being briefed on the intelligence.

While calling North Korea's nuclear assistance to Syria a ''dangerous manifestation'' of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and its proliferation activities, the White House said it remained committed to the talks.

The United States became aware North Korea was helping Syria with a nuclear project in 2003, said intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity. The critical intelligence that cemented that conclusion, they said, came last year: dozens of photographs taken from ground level over a period of time, showing the construction both inside and outside the building.

The Israeli strike on Sept. 6, 2007, ripped open the structure, known as the Al Kibar reactor, and revealed even more evidence to spy satellites: reinforced concrete walls that echoed the design of the Yongbyon reactor.

After the attack, Syria tried to bury evidence of its existence and erected a new building to hide the site. The building is not believed to house a new reactor, the officials said.

''This coverup only served to reinforce our confidence that this reactor was not intended for peaceful activities,'' White House press secretary Dana Perino said. ''The Syrian regime must come clean before the world regarding its illicit nuclear activities.''

The Syrian reactor was within weeks or months of being functional when Israeli jets destroyed it, a top U.S. official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The official said the facility was mostly completed but still needed fueling and significant testing before it could be declared operational.

''We had to assume they could throw the switch at any time,'' a senior intelligence official said.

No uranium, which is needed to fuel a reactor, was evident at the site, a remote area of eastern Syria along the Euphrates River. But senior U.S. intelligence officials said the reactor was similar in design to the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, which has in the past produced small amounts of plutonium, the material needed to make powerful nuclear weapons.

A senior intelligence official said the intelligence agencies believe North Korea was motivated by ''cash'' rather than a desire to obtain plutonium from the reactor.

Syria has maintained in the past that the site was an unused military facility, and on Thursday, its embassy denounced what it called the U.S. ''campaign of false allegations.'' It accused the administration of trying to mislead Congress and world opinion ''in order to justify the Israeli raid in September of 2007, which the current U.S. administration may have helped execute.''

Senior U.S. officials said the U.S. military was not involved in the attack, and the U.S. government, although informed in advance, did not approve it.

''Israel made the decision to attack,'' a senior administration official said. ''It did so without any so-called green light from us. None was asked for and none was given.''

''It has become obvious that this maneuver on the part of this administration comes within the framework of the North Korean nuclear negotiations,'' the Syrian statement said.

And in an apparent reference to prewar claims by the Bush administration that Iraq had possessed weapons of mass destruction, the statement concluded: ''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.''

Top members of the House Intelligence Committee who were briefed on the reactor said it posed a serious threat of spreading dangerous nuclear materials.

''This is a serious proliferation issue, both for the Middle East and the countries that may be involved in Asia,'' said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.

Hoekstra and Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told reporters after the closed briefing that they were angry that the Bush administration had delayed informing the full committee for so long. That delay has created friction that may imperil congressional support for Bush's policies toward North Korea and Syria, Hoekstra said.

The White House also used its statement as an opportunity to denounce the nuclear activities of Iran, which it says is a threat to the stability of the Middle East. Perino said the international community must take further steps, beginning with full implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

While Washington was awash in condemnation of North Korea's proliferation activities, the communist regime is expressing optimism about current six-party negotiations with the United States, China, South Korea, Russia and Japan. The optimism over the talks is raising hopes of breaking the impasse that has deadlocked arms negotiations.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it had discussed technical matters with the Americans for moving forward on that and other agreements from the arms talks. ''The negotiations proceeded in a sincere and constructive manner and progress was made,'' the ministry said in a statement.

As part of that process, the North is required to submit a ''declaration'' detailing its programs and proliferation activity, but the talks are stalled over Pyongyang's refusal to publicly admit the Syria connection. However, officials say the North Koreans are willing to accept international ''concern'' about unspecified proliferation.

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann, Barry Schweid, Matthew Lee, Anne Flaherty, Edith Lederer and Bassem Mroueh contributed to this report.


Geopolitical Diary: The Syrian Nuclear Mystery Evolves
April 25, 2008 | 0223 GMT

The Bush administration briefed the U.S. Congress on Thursday about the reasons behind the Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli raid on Syria. According to the secret briefing — the content of which, of course, not only was leaked immediately (as was intended) but was essentially confirmed by a White House spokeswoman — the target was a nuclear reactor, able to produce plutonium, that had been built with the assistance of North Korea. The administration showed a videotape, apparently produced by Israeli intelligence, showing faces that were said to be in the facility and to be clearly Korean.

What is important to note is this information is not new. It is a confirmation of the story leaked by the administration shortly after the attack and also leaked by the Israelis a bit later. The explanation for the attack was that it was designed to take out a reactor in Syria that had been built with North Korean help. There are therefore three questions. First, why did the United States go to such lengths to reveal what it has been saying privately for months? Second, why did the administration do it now? Third, why is the United States explaining an Israeli raid using, at least in part, material provided by Israel? Why isn’t Israel making the revelation?

It has never been clear to us why the Israelis and Americans didn’t immediately announce that the Syrians were building a nuclear reactor. Given American hostility toward Syria over support for jihadists in Iraq, we would have thought that they would have announced it instantly. The explanation we thought most plausible at the time was that the intelligence came from the North Koreans in the course of discussions of their nuclear technology, and since the North Koreans were cooperating, the United States didn’t want to publicly embarrass them. It was the best we could come up with.

The announcement on Thursday seems to debunk that theory, at least to the extent that the primary material displayed was U.S. satellite information and the Israeli video, which was said to have been used to convince the United States of the existence of the reactor and of North Korean involvement. So why didn’t the administration condemn Syria and North Korea on Sept. 7? It still seems to us that part of the explanation is in the state of talks with North Korea over its own program. The North Koreans had said that they would provide technical information on their program — which they haven’t done. Either the United States lost its motivation to protect North Korean feelings because of this or the Bush administration felt that Thursday’s briefings would somehow bring pressure to bear on North Korea. Unless the United States is planning to use these revelations as justification for attacks on the North Koreans, we find it difficult to see how this increases pressure on them.

More interesting is the question of why the United States — and not Israel — is briefing on an Israeli raid. Israeli media reported April 23 that the Israelis had asked the Americans not to brief Congress. The reason given was that the Israelis did not want the United States to embarrass Syria at this point. As we noted on April 23, there appeared to have been some interesting diplomatic moves between Syria and Israel, and it made sense that revealing this information now might increase friction.

If this read is true, then it would appear that the United States briefed deliberately against Israeli wishes. Certainly, the Israelis didn’t participate in the process. One answer could be that the United States is unhappy about Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s moves on Syria and wants to derail them. The United States wanted Syria out of Lebanon. The Israelis have a more complex view of their presence. In some ways, they see the Syrians as a stabilizing force. And they certainly aren’t eager to see Bashar al Assad’s government fall, since whatever might replace the al Assad government would probably be worse from the Israeli point of view. That would mean that the Israelis would want to take out the reactor, but not necessarily rub the Syrians’ nose in it.

So there are two plausible answers to Thursday’s show. One is to increase pressure on North Korea. The second is to derail any Israeli-Syrian peace process. The problem is that it’s hard to see why North Korea is going to be moved by the official declaration of what Washington has been saying from the beginning. The second would assume that U.S.-Israeli relations had deteriorated to the point that the United States had to use this as a lever. That’s tough to believe.

The senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, said after the briefing, “This administration has no credibility on North Korea. A lot of us are beginning to become concerned that the administration is moving away from getting a solid policy solution to ‘let’s make a deal.’”

So that seems to undermine the prep for strike theory. That leaves tension between the United States and Israel as the last standing theory. Not a good theory, but the last standing one.



By Stratfor. This Report Expresses the views of Stratfor

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of CRNews.



Syria's secret: did North Korea help to build a nuclear plant?
Tom Baldwin in Washington
From The TimesApril 25, 2008

The White House yesterday broke seven months of silence over why Israel bombed a building in the Syrian desert last year, saying that it was convinced North Korea was helping to build a nuclear plant at the site.

In a statement issued last night, President Bush’s press secretary declared the collaboration between Syria and North Korea represented “a dangerous and potentially destabilising development for the world” because the facility was unlikely to have been for “peaceful purposes”. Syria described the accusation as “absurd”.

Hours earlier the CIA had finally given Congress sight of videotapes and other “extremely compelling” evidence which, it believes, indicates that North Korea was helping Syria. The nuclear plant was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on September 6 that has since been the focus of world-wide speculation.

Intelligence officials showed committees on Capitol Hill a video taken inside the Syrian al-Kibar facility in which Korean faces were said to be visible. The design of the plant is alleged to resemble the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, including a similar configuration and number of holes for fuel rods.

The CIA believes the facility would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons but was destroyed by the Israelis just weeks before it became operational. The air strike last year has been compared to the raid on Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981. The videotape is understood to have been provided by Israeli intelligence hoping to overcome US scepticism, but the CIA yesterday stressed it had material from different sources that also pointed to North Korean involvement.

Syria’s Ambassador to the US condemned the disclosures and insisted once again that his country never had a nuclear programme. Imad Moustafa said: “This is exactly the same story as Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction. There is a proven record of this [US] Administration to fabricate lies.”

But both the US and Israel feared that if the Syrian reactor had become operational, not only would an Arab nation have developed nuclear capability for the first time but also that the regime the Washington accuses of supporting terrorism could have obtained weapons of mass destruction.

Yesterday’s disclosures came at a sensitive time for relations between the US and North Korea. The US State Department is pressing Pyongyang to come clean about the full extent of its nuclear programme – including exporting such technology – before lifting sanctions against a country which Mr Bush once proclaimed was part of an “axis of evil”.

But national security hawks have criticised the US Administration for watering down previous demands that North Korea publicly admit to having a nuclear weapons programme and helping Syria.

Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, is among those believed to be concerned that North Korea is being rewarded for “bad behaviour”, and there has been speculation that the release of intelligence material is designed to wreck the six-party talks on disarmament that represent one of the few achievements of multilateral diplomacy in recent years.

Congressional resistance to the compromise deal with North Korea probably prompted yesterday’s disclosures. Peter Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, complained repeatedly about the “unprecedented veil of secrecy” thrown around the September airstrike.

Yesterday he appeared little mollified, saying that by waiting so long to reveal intelligence material “the Administration has made it much more difficult – if they do reach some kind of agreement with the six-party talks – for them to go through the Congress and get these agreements approved”.

Both the US State Department and the North Korean Government said that talks in Pyongyang on the nuclear issue this week were making progress despite the latest row.



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


In text: US accuses Syria and N Korea 

The full text of the statement by White House press secretary Dana Perino on alleged Syrian and North Korean nuclear co-operation follows:

Today, administration officials have briefed select Congressional committees on an issue of great international concern.

Until 6 September, 2007, the Syrian regime was building a covert nuclear reactor in its eastern desert capable of producing plutonium. We are convinced, based on a variety of information, that North Korea assisted Syria's covert nuclear activities. We have good reason to believe that reactor, which was damaged beyond repair on 6 September of last year, was not intended for peaceful purposes.

Carefully hidden from view, the reactor was not configured for such purposes. In defiance of its international obligations, Syria did not inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the construction of the reactor, and, after it was destroyed, the regime moved quickly to bury evidence of its existence.

This cover-up only served to reinforce our confidence that this reactor was not intended for peaceful activities.

'Must come clean'

We are briefing the IAEA on this intelligence. The Syrian regime must come clean before the world regarding its illicit nuclear activities.

The Syrian regime supports terrorism, takes action that destabilises Lebanon, allows the transit of some foreign fighters into Iraq, and represses its own people. If Syria wants better relations with the international community, it should put an end to these activities.

We have long been seriously concerned about North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its proliferation activities. North Korea's clandestine nuclear cooperation with Syria is a dangerous manifestation of those activities. One way we have chosen to deal with this problem is through the Six Party Framework.

Through this process we are working with our partners to achieve the verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The United States is also committed to ensuring that North Korea does not further engage in proliferation activities. We will work with our partners to establish in the Six Party Framework a rigorous verification mechanism to ensure that such conduct and other nuclear activities have ceased.

'Risks of Iran'

The construction of this reactor was a dangerous and potentially destabilising development for the region and the world. This is particularly true because it was done covertly and in violation of the very procedures designed to reassure the world of the peaceful intent of nuclear activities.

This development also serves as a reminder that often the same regimes that sponsor proliferation also sponsor terrorism and foster instability, and co-operate with one another in doing so. This underscores that the international community is right to be very concerned about the nuclear activities of Iran and the risks those activities pose to the stability of the Middle East.

To confront this challenge, the international community must take further steps, beginning with the full implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions dealing with Iranian nuclear activities. The United States calls upon the international community to redouble our common efforts to ending these activities and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction in this critical region.



Syria 'had covert nuclear scheme'


Yongbyon (GeoEye Satellite Image) Nuclear facility
Satellite images of N Korea's controversial Yongbyon plant


Music to their ears?

From BBC


From The Times Online UK Archives:

An in-tray full of foreign policy problems

...purported attempt by Syria to get nuclear weapons with North Korean...the brink of having a nuclear weapon in the new president...power shrinks. North Korea wants lethal weapons...against Iran would be a nuclear-armed Iran. Randy.....

Bronwen Maddox

25 April 2008 The Times

Syria's secret: did North Korea help to build a nuclear plant?

...indicates that North Korea was helping Syria. The nuclear plant was destroyed...demands that North Korea publicly admit to having a nuclear weapons programme and helping Syria. Dick Cheney...concerned that North Korea is being rewarded.....

Tom Baldwin

25 April 2008 The Times

Paperback: Atomic Bazaar by William Langewische

...several cases: the nuclear bomb in the hands...example “North Korea, Iran, perhaps Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Brazil...eastern epicentre of nuclear weaponry, Ozersk...these evils arrested. Nuclear-armed and volatile...

Ross Leckie

04 April 2008 The Times

He stood up to the US - and survived

...nothing new in today's world, as Syria and North Korea have demonstrated. But in the case of Cuba...American invasion by allowing the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles on its territory.But there is another...

Mark Falcoff

20 February 2008 The Times

Israelis hit Syrian ‘nuclear bomb plant’

...undeclared nuclear arsenal...Republic of Korea] transferred to Syria weapons...Israel and Syria, end the...disarm North Korea of its nuclear weapons...that North Korea supplied such nuclear weapons material to Syria, a state...

Michael Sheridan

02 December 2007 The Sunday Times

Gun-shy America is losing the best chance to stop Iran

...action to stop Iran going nuclear. First, he argues...But Iran and North Korea are also important...having acquired and kept nuclear weapons contrary to the...bombing raid on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria: “Look at the...

Richard Woods

02 December 2007 The Sunday Times

Ruthless Kim fells ‘sacred tree’loggers

...the government-run Korea Institute for National...recognition of North Korea by the United States...Israeli air raid on Syria targeting a suspected nuclear installation supplied...s old foes in South Korea go to the polls to elect...

Michael Sheridan

25 November 2007 The Sunday Times

Democracy for all! Well, not quite

...knows how many jobs.In Syria, a state that jails and...apparently been scheming with North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons, a similar discretion...pushing human rights and democracy in nuclear Pakistan harder than in stable...

George Walden

17 November 2007 The Times

Meet the candidates

...hostages in Sudan, North Korea and Iraq during the Clinton...dialogue with states such as Syria and Iran, opposing any military...isolation of states such as Iran, Syria and North Korea and believes the US nuclear arsenal should be dramatically...

25 October 2007 Times Online

Israeli raid hit Syrian nuclear reactor

...role North Korea might have...either way, Syria would have...weapons grade nuclear material...route to nuclear power, or...by North Korea. All Israel...strike on Syria. Both countries...with North Korea over its nuclear programme...stance against Syria.

Imre Karacs

14 October 2007 The Sunday Times

Condoleezza Rice opposed Israel’s attack on Syrian nuclear site

...Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. The US state department...team of experts to North Korea on Tuesday to begin disabling...George W Bush said North Korea had committed “not to transfer nuclear materials, technology...to US intelligence, Syria is believed to have received...

Sarah Baxter

07 October 2007 The Sunday Times

Mix-up reveals what President George Bush must do when words fail him at UN

...mangling the pronunciation of “nuclear”, coining words such as...rdquo; in Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe and looked ahead to...reiterating that Iran’s nuclear programme was “completely...

James Bone

26 September 2007 The Times

Bush denounces tyrants from Cuba to Zimbabwe

...in Belarus, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe and announcing tightened...quot; in Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe and said "...mention of Teheran's suspected nuclear weapons programme. He also call...

James Bone

25 September 2007 Times Online

Snatched: Israeli commandos ‘nuclear’ raid

...Zawr in northern Syria. They were looking for proof that Syria and North Korea were collaborating on a nuclear programme. Israel...the idea that Syria could master...make its own nuclear devices. The...whether North Korea could have transferred...

Sarah Baxter; Michael Sheridan

23 September 2007 The Sunday Times

Israelis seized nuclear material in Syrian raid

...that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified...This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. Israeli special...for several months in Syria, according to Israeli...

Sarah Baxter

23 September 2007 The Sunday Times

Bush may bypass UN with tough sanctions against Iran

...September 6 of a suspected nuclear site in Syria. The Washington Post...the US that North Korea may have been assisting Syria - a country linked with Iran - fulfil its nuclear ambitions. Details...to persuade North Korea to scrap its own nuclear...

Tom Baldwin

22 September 2007 The Times

Blast at secret Syrian missile site kills dozens

...nuclear shipment from North Korea. Although Israel has maintained...have hinted that North Korea might have been trying to hide nuclear materials in Syria to avoid inspection. No...which Syria and North Korea deny and which critics say...

Michael Evans

20 September 2007 The Times

World in Brief

US nuclear fears over North Korea and Syria WASHINGTON The United States is keeping close watch on Syria and North Korea, the Pentagon chief said...were possibly cooperating with Syria on a nuclear facility. Robert Gates, the...

17 September 2007 The Times

A tale of two dictatorships: The links between North Korea and Syria

...Korea. North Korea, which exploded a nuclear device in October...become critical to Syria’s plans...such as selling nuclear components to Syria. But nothing...inhibits North Korea from aggressively...pursuing its non-nuclear weapons sales...

Michael Sheridan

16 September 2007 The Sunday Times

Israelis ‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’

...evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.The Israeli...that North Korea is accused of nuclear cooperation with Syria, helped...about North Korea and Iran outsourcing their nuclear programmes...last week. Syria, he added...

Sarah Baxter; Michael Sheridan

16 September 2007 The Sunday Times


From The Telegraph

North Korea 'helped Syria build nuclear reactor'
25/04/2008 10:53AM BST  |  Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, and Emma Henry
North Korea 'helped Syria build nuclear reactor'. The US press have quoted government officials describing it as "very damning". But Imad Moustapha, Syria's ambassador to the US, accused the intelligence agencies of manufacturing evidence as a pretext ...read 

Real reason Syrian base was wiped off the map
25/04/2008 00:01AM BST  |  Con Coughlin
has taken shape following the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime - that between North Korea, Syria and Iran. While the Americans have explained the reasons for Israel's attack, they have been less forthcoming about why the Syrians were trying to acquire ...read 
North Korea accused of helping Syria to build a nuclear reactor
24/04/2008 08:51AM BST  |  Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
North Korea accused of helping Syria to build a nuclear reactor. The director of the CIA has accused North Korea of helping Syria to build a nuclear reactor. CIA video stills show a nuclear reactor under construction in Syria Michael Hayden said there ...read 
North Korea 'helped Syria build nuclear reactor'
24/04/2008 08:51AM BST  |  Natalie Paris
North Korea 'helped Syria build nuclear reactor'. The CIA believes North Korea shared expertise with Syria that assisted in the creation of a nuclear reactor, according to reports in Washington. The claim, from US intelligence sources, comes after months ...read 
Israel says Syria nuclear base was raid target
02/04/2008 00:01AM BST  |  Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
Israel says Syria nuclear base was raid target. Israel has admitted for the first time that an air strike in Syria last year was aimed at a nuclear facility built with assistance from North Korea. The Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun cited sources ...read 

CIA to Show Proof of Syrian Reactor - NTI

In congressional briefings today, CIA Director Michael Hayden plans to show a video depicting North Korean personnel in a Syrian building that appeared to be modeled after a North Korean nuclear reactor, the Washington Post reported today (see GSN, April 23).

The Syrian facility — destroyed by Israel in September — shows “remarkable resemblances inside and out to Yongbyon,” said a U.S. intelligence official, referring to the North Korean plutonium production reactor that is now being disabled as part of a six-nation deal to denuclearize the Stalinist state (see related GSN story, today).  The video appears to show a nearly identical design for the Syrian reactor’s core, including the number and configuration of fuel rods (Robin Wright, Washington Post, April 24).

“The belief is that the reactor was nearing completion,” said one official familiar with the set of briefings scheduled to be delivered to a number of congressional committees today (Kralev/Carter, Washington Times, April 24).

“The reactor was put out of commission before it was loaded with nuclear fuel, before it became operational,” an official told Agence France-Presse.  “It was not designed to produce electricity.”

“If it had been complete, the reactor would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, but it was destroyed before it could so,” the official added.  “That’s the result of solid intelligence” (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, April 23).

Israeli intelligence officials provided their U.S. counterparts with the video before launching the Sept. 6 air strike that destroyed the site, the Post reported.  Syrian officials have persistently denied that the site had a nuclear role, but have rebuffed inspection requests from the International Atomic Energy Agency.  The site was quickly razed following the Israeli attack, and a new structure has been erected.

Syrian officials continued their denials yesterday and said the public release of the information was intended to derail the North Korean denuclearization agreement.

“If they show a video, remember that the U.S. went to the U.N. Security Council and displayed evidence and images about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” said Syrian Ambassador to the United States Imad Moustapha.  “I hope the American people will not be as gullible this time around.

“We do not want to plan to acquire nuclear technology as we understand the reality of this world and have seen what the U.S. did to Iraq even when it did not have a nuclear program.  So we are not going to give them a pretext to attack Syria,” he added.

“[Why are] they repeating the same lies and fabrications when they were planning to attack Iraq?  The reason is simple:  It's about North Korea, not Syria.  The neoconservative elements are having the upper hand,” Moustapha said (Wright, Washington Post).

Indeed, one former U.S. official suggested yesterday that North Korea was using Syria to circumvent its denuclearization commitments.

“North Korea is outsourcing its nuclear weapons program.  And if you want to hide your activities from inspectors in North Korea, what better place than Syria?” former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told the Washington Times (Kralev/Carter, Washington Times).

Two nuclear proliferation experts, however, questioned whether the destroyed Syrian facility was part of a nuclear weapons program.

“The United States does not have any indication of how Syria would fuel this reactor, and no information that North Korea had already, or intended to provide the reactor’s fuel,” said David Albright and Paul Brannan, of the Institute for Science and International Security, in an analysis released today.

In addition, U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies “have not identified any Syrian plutonium separation or nuclear weaponization facilities,” according to the analysis.

“The absence of such facilities gives little confidence that the reactor was part of an active nuclear weapons program.  The apparent absence of fuel, whether imported or indigenously produced, also lowers confidence that Syria has an active nuclear weapons program,” he said (Institute for Science and International Security release, April 24).



Nuclear Chronology - Syria - from NTI


6 January 2004
The United States and Britain have stated bluntly that Syria must relinquish its weapons of mass destruction or "face ostracism—even if neighboring Israel keeps its nuclear arms." This is in response to an earlier announcement by President Bashar Assad that Syria would not dispose of its WMD until and unless Israel does the same. The two western countries have made clear to Syria that abandoning its chemical and biological weapons constitutes the price of better relations.
--Anton La Guardia, "Assad Given Weapons Ultimatum," The Daily Telegraph (London), 7 January 2004.

9 January 2004
According to National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, the Bush administration is in the process of investigating a report that Iraq spirited its WMD across the border into Syria before the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Rice adds however that "I don't think we are at the point that we can make a judgment on the issue. There hasn't been any hard evidence that such a thing happened."
--Mike Allen, "Syria Role on Iraqi Arms Is Studied," The Washington Post, 10 January 2004.

16 January 2004
Commenting on Syria, Secretary of State Colin Powell told Britain's Sky News that the United States has not characterized it "as one of the members of the axis of evil but we are concerned about some of Syria's policies with respect to supporting terrorist activity, with respect of what they might be doing with weapons of mass destruction."
--"Powell Renews Call on Syria to End Support for Terrorism, WMD," Agence France Presse, 16 January 2004.

27 January 2004
Syrian ambassador Mikail Wehbe, speaking at a UN disarmament conference in Geneva, repeated the Syrian demand for a WMD-free Middle East "without exception".
--"Syria Reiterated Demand for Nuclear-Free Middle East," Agence France Presse, 27 January 2004.

April 2004
Middle East Newsline alleges that a report suggesting that WMD parts have been transported to Khartoum, Sudan from Syria since January of this year -- has been verified by sources who also contest the assertion that Sudanese President al-Bashir is unaware of the shipments.
--Jason Fuchs, "Iran's Cleric Push in Iraq as Syria Moves its WMD," Defense & Foreign Affairs' Strategic Policy, April 2004, p.20.

1 April 2004
Following discussions with his Syrian counterpart and President al-Assad, Foreign Minister Bernard Bot of the Netherlands affirms that the European Union expects to find a compromise on the WMD issue that will satisfy all the parties to a pending association accord.
--"EU, Syria Ready to Compromise on Banned Weapons: Dutch FM," Agence France Presse, 1 April 2004.

8 April 2004
In addition to expressing concern over the possibility of Syria having been a customer of Pakistan's Dr. Khan, U.S. officials point to two IAEA programs that could prove helpful to determined scientists in Syria. The atomic agency has helped the Syrians procure hot cells to process for purposes of medical imaging; in addition, it assisted in efforts to produce high-purity phosphoric acid from phosphate by extracting uranium. According to David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security, the Syrian hot cells are "larger than necessary" and any uranium extracted would not be subject to IAEA scrutiny. Albright adds: "It's a long shot...but it raises questions about the Syrians' intentions."
--Carla Anne Robbins, "Helping Syria Get Hot Cells," Wall Street Journal, 8 April 2004, p. A1.

9 April 2004
According to Ha'aretz, a former Syrian spy has revealed that Damascus is in possession of sensitive information regarding Israel's Dimona reactor, including photos from inside the reactor compound.
--"Ex-Spy: Syria Has Data on Israel's Reactor," United Press International, 9 April 2004.

30 April 2004
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, speaking with reporters, confirms that the United States will not balk at implementing the Syria Accountability Act, imposing sanctions on Syria, unless there is an effort to seriously address WMD concerns and support for terrorism.
--Olivier Knox, "US: Possible Syria Sanctions "Very Soon"," Agence France Presse, 30 April 2004.

7 May 2004
Citing an unidentified U.S. administration source, an Israeli TV correspondent alleges that Syria—though not yet nuclear-capable—evinced interest in acquiring nuclear parts via a "leak" in the A.Q. Khan proliferation ring.
--"Israeli TV Alleges Nuclear Parts Reaching Syria," BBC, 7 May 2004.

11 May 2004
President Bush enumerates the reasons the United States has approved sanctions against Syria, accusing it of "supporting terrorism, continuing its occupation of Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining United States and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq...."
--Krishnadev Calamur, "U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Syria," United Press International, 11 May 2004.

13 May 2004
EU foreign ministers are set to resume talks with Syria on their pending trade agreement next week.
--Ian Black, "Europe to Seek Syria Trade Deal," The Guardian (London), 13 May 2004.

17 May 2004
The Syria-EU trade accord remains unsigned at a meeting for EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Britain, Germany and the Netherlands continue to hold out for tougher wording of the deal's WMD clause.
--Judy Dempsey, "Three Countries Demand Tougher WMD Clause in Syria Trade Deal," The Financial Times, 18 May 2004.

26 May 2004
European officials approve text regarding the WMD clause to be included in the trade accord with Syria. No date has been fixed for resuming negotiations however.
--"EU Agrees Syria Deal, Plans Renewed Talks With Damascus," Deutsche Presse Agentur, 26 May 2004.

15 June 2004
According to a report published in the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, referencing "well informed European diplomatic sources," the signing of the EU-Syria agreement has been taken off the agenda of the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg today, there being no new reason to discuss it. According to these same sources, the European Union is considering sending a team to Damascus within the next three weeks to "persuade them of the need to sign the partnership agreement that includes the disputed paragraph."
--"EU Partnership Agreement With Syria Dropped From Foreign Ministers' Agenda," BBC, 17 June 2004.

4 July 2004
According to a report published by the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, EU High Representative for WMD affairs Javier Solana will be visiting Damascus 14 and 15 July to discuss the revisions to the trade accord agreed by EU representatives on 26 May.
--"Talks to Resume on EU Association Agreement With Syria," BBC, 5 July 2004.

4 July 2004
Investigators tracking nuclear technology that proliferated via the A.Q. Khan network suggest that Syria may have procured centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to produce a bomb.
--Sarah Baxter, "CIA Fears Syria Could Go Nuclear," Sunday Times (London), 4 July 2004.

9 July 2004
An unidentified senior diplomat says there is no evidence to warrant reporting Syria or Saudi Arabia to the IAEA board of governors, in connection with the A.Q. Khan nuclear technology proliferation network.
--George Jahn, "Head of UN Nuclear Agency Says More Than 20 International Companies Supplied Black Market," The Associated Press, 9 July 2004.

10 September 2004
A Jerusalem Post article stresses growing international concern regarding Syria's possible acquisition of nuclear weapons, "perhaps with the assistance of its Iranian ally." The writer refers to statements by U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton that "several other" [unspecified] customers had attempted to acquire nuclear technology from the Khan network besides North Korea, Libya, and Iran. The writer also points to Khan's alleged visits to Damascus in 1997 and 1998 to lecture on nuclear materials, suggesting that in 2001 Syria moved the meeting venue to Iran to avoid exposure of its contacts with the WMD black marketer. Recent reports allege that Syria may have acquired gas centrifuges, thereby potentially allowing it to produce enriched uranium.
--Douglas Davis, "A Syrian Bomb?" The Jerusalem Post, 10 September 2004.

26 September 2004
Western intelligence officials allege that President Bashir al-Asad is attempting to move 12 Iraqi nuclear technicians from Syria to Iran. They were allegedly sent to Damascus, provided with new identities, and hidden at an undisclosed military installation prior to the current war in Iraq. The deal Asad proposes purportedly includes transferring the Iraqi scientists to Teheran to assist their counterparts in developing atomic weapons; the results of the research would then be shared with Syria.
--Con Coughlin, "Syria Brokers Secret Deal to Send Atomic Weapons Scientists to Iran," Sunday Telegraph (London), 26 September 2004.

30 September 2004
Asked if Syria was a client of A.Q. Khan's nuclear network, IAEA head El Baradei responds "we have seen no indications."
--Mohamed El Baradei, "Still Time for Diplomacy?" interview by Tim Sebastian, HARDtalk, BBC News, 30 September 2004.

21 October 2004
A year-long dispute between Syria and the European Union is apparently resolved with agreement on a WMD clause. The clause provides for cooperation in countering terrorism and WMD proliferation, including their means of delivery. The accord must now be approved by 25 EU foreign ministers scheduled to meet in December 2004.
--"EU Agreement Allows Syria To Keep WMD," WorldTribune.com, 21 October 2004.

10 November 2004
An unidentified U.S. official reveals that the Bush administration is looking at imposing further sanctions on Syria, citing the latter's reluctance to cease support for terrorism and for its alleged WMD activities. A decision is expected within the next few weeks.
--"Bush Administration Considers New Syrian Sanctions," Global Security Newswire, 10 November 2004.

21 December 2004
Xinhua reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will continue talks with the U. S. and Israel regarding sanctions and accusations of seeking weapons of mass destruction. Washington states that Damascus is harboring terrorists, trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and is not stopping border infiltration into Iraq.
--"Yearender: Syria seeks multi-channels to ease US, Israeli pressure," Xinhua, 21 December 2004.

2 January 2005
Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi states in his interview with Al-Jazeera satellite TV, that "Syria has no nuclear programme or nuclear weapons, but that it has the right 'to liberate its land.'"
--"Al-Qadhafi says Libya 'Served World Peace' by Halting Nuclear Programme," Global Security Newswire, 2 January 2005.

17 January 2005
Officials from the Bush Administration state that their suspicion of WMD being transported out of Iraq by President Saddam Hussein has turned out to be untrue. Intelligence and congressional officials claim "they have not seen any information--never 'a piece,' said one--indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan, or elsewhere." The official report of the transfer of WMD to Syria, Jordan, or other countries will be reported in February.
--"U.S. intelligence found no evidence WMD moved from Iraq," Associated Press, 17 January 2005.

24 January 2005
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Moscow today to begin negotiations with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russia is interested in taking a bigger role in the Middle East. The two leaders will discuss resolving the conflict between Israel and Syria. They will also discuss Russia's "pledge" to control "Syria's military program in order to prevent the development of weapons of mass destruction."
--"Imperial optimism," RusData Dialine, 24, January 2005.

25 January 2005
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agrees with Syria's proposal of creating a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Lavrov states he would like to see U.S.-Syria relations improve through dialogue instead of threats. He states that Russia is "concerned by the situation that has been developing around Syria, recently. It is important to prevent the appearance of additional hotbeds of tension in that region that is filled with crises as it is."
--"Russian Minister Voices Concern over US Claims of Syria's Links to Extremism," Global Security Newswire, 25 January 2005.

25 January 2005
Israeli Mossad Chief Meir Dagan states that "there must always be an intelligence effort to check the recent information on the start of nuclear programs in Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia." He adds that there maybe clues that Syria is starting a project utilizing nuclear materials.
--"Mossad chief, Iran will go nuclear this year," The Jerusalem Post, 25 January 2005.

27 January 2005
A joint declaration signed by Russia and Syria states that Moscow will oversee Syria's defense program in order to halt the production of weapons of mass destruction.
--"Is Russia playing Soviet games," The Jerusalem Post, 27 January 2005.

29 January 2005
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has finished four days of successful talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow. In regards to their discussion about Iran, al-Assad states that both parties agreed that "in accordance with international law any country has the right to possess a peaceful nuclear reactor...we take the same approach as Russia on the question of stationing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction."
--"President Al-Asad says Syrian forces will remain in Lebanon," BBC, 29 January 2005.

4 February 2005
In his State of the Union Address, President George Bush says, that in order "to promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbour terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder," singling out both Syria and Iran. He stated that the Syrian government needs to take action in preserving peace and freedom in the region.
--"Bush Warns Syria, Iran," Global Security Newswire, 4 February 2005.

7 April 2005
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter states that the United States fails to acknowledge how Israel's nuclear program encourages countries such as Syria, Iran, and Egypt to pursue nuclear weapons.
--"Saving Non-Proliferation," Windsor Star, 7 April 2005.

14 April 2005
U.S. Representative of the House Committee on International Relations and House Armed Services Committee Edward R. Royce states that the United States should worry that the technology transfer acquired from China by A.Q. Khan could have been proliferated to Syria.
--"U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) holds a joint hearing with the House International Relations Committee on E.U. weapons sales to China," FDCH Political Transcript, 14 April 2005.

26 April 2005
The Iraq Survey Group that was in charge of the search for WMD in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein releases a report declaring it has found no evidence supporting the claim that Iraqi arms are hidden in Syria. The findings of the report contradict the previous sentiment of U.S. officials who had believed some WMD from Iraq had been moved to Syria prior to 2003.
--"Inspectors Find No Proof Iraq Hid Weapons in Syria," Reuters, 26 April 2005.

27 April 2005
Charles Duelfer, the chief weapons inspector of the Iraqi Survey Group said that he cannot rule out that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have been transferred to Syria, although all senior Iraqi detainees involved in Saddam's security and weapons programs "uniformly denied any knowledge of residual WMD that could have been secreted to Syria."
--Rowan Scarborough, "CIA can't rule out WMD move to Syria," Washington Times, 27 April 2005.

Early 2005
Western diplomats state that Pakistani nuclear Scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan gave lectures about "nuclear issues," between late 1997 to early 1998 in Damascus.
--"The Growing Syrian Missile Threat," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2005.

29 September 2005
Cuba, Syria, and Belarus have become part of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board.
--"Cuba, Syria, Belarus join IAEA board, strengthening anti-U.S. front," Associated Press, 29 September 2005.

12 December 2005
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad states every country has an inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology including Iran.
--"Nuclear-Iran-States," ARABIA, 12 December 2005.

12 December 2005
In an interview by Russian TV, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad states that in order for the Middle East to be a nuclear weapons-free zone, Israel must give up its nuclear weapons.
--"Syrian President Interviewed by Russian TV on Al-Hariri Probe, Iraq, other issues," BBC, 12 December 2005.

4 January 2006
A 55-page intelligence assessment report formulated by British, French, German, and Belgian agencies states that Syria and Pakistan have been purchasing technology and chemicals which are used to enrich uranium and create their rocket programs.
--"Secret services say Iran is trying to assemble a nuclear missile: Documents seen by Guardian details web of front companies and middlemen," The Guardian, 4 January 2006.

13 May 2006
On 13 May 2006, a de-classified report to the U.S. Congress on the acquisition of technology relating to weapons of mass destruction and advanced conventional munitions for the period 1 January to 31 December 2004 indicates that the A.Q. Khan Network offered nuclear technology and hardware to Syria. The report further states that in 2004 Syria continued to develop civilian nuclear capabilities, including uranium extraction technology and hot cell facilities, all potentially applicable to a weapons program.
--Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January to 31 December 2004, Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

27 September 2006
Syrian Deputy Petroleum Minister, Dr. Hasan Zeinab, denied claims made in a report by Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasa of an ongoing nuclear program supervised by Iranian and Iraqi scientists. Zeinab went on to assert that he was in favor of the commencement of such a program in the future to support growing Syrian energy concerns.
--"Syria Aspires to Go Nuclear, Denies Ongoing Program," The Media Line, 27 September 2006.

27 October 2006
In an interview with Tokyo-based Asahi Shimbun, Syria President Bashar al-Assad stresses that Syria is not seeking to become a nuclear power. He argues that Damascus' ultimate aim is a nuclear-free Middle East. Al-Assad pushes for greater application of international pressure on Israel to abandon its nuclear arsenal and voices support for Iran's international right to develop a nuclear program for "peaceful purposes." He also criticized the United States' reluctance to accept Syria's offer of entering into dialogue.
--Daiji Sadamori, "Assad: Syria Not Seeking To Be Nuclear State," Asahi Shimbun, 27 October 2006.

12 January 2007
Syrian officials highlight the nuclear energy option to meet increased energy consumption in the country. Officials have stated that nuclear energy could provide a feasible energy alternative in light of concerns of oil depletion and ten percent annual increase in electricity use. Syria has signed deals with Kuwait, Venezuela, and Iran to build refineries, as well as oil exploration deals with international companies to maintain its current level of production until 2025. However, official sources hint that the production decreases may occur before then. Lately, Syrian Electricity Minister Ahmed Khalid al-Ali has stated that the nuclear energy option was "not out of [Syria's] sight" to meet increasing energy demands, and Syrian Deputy Oil Minister Hasan Zaynab declared that nuclear energy was the only alternative to oil.
--Syria: Nuclear Energy Alternative Proposed Amidst Concerns of Oil Depletion, Increased Electrical Consumption," OSC Report, in Open Source Center Document GMP20070112388001, 12 January 2007

12 September 2007
American officials confirm that Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes on a target inside Syria on September 6. However, the nature of the target and extent of damage still remain unclear. No public statements have been made by either Israel or the United States regarding the matter.
--Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper, "U.S. confirms Israeli strikes hit Syrian target last week," New York Times, 12 September 2007.

13 September 2007
U.S. intelligence indicates that North Korea and Syria might have been cooperating on some kind of nuclear facility in Syria. The evidence based primarily on Israeli satellite imagery has led U.S. officials to believe that the facility could have been used to produce material for nuclear weapons. Speculations are also rife that the bombed facility could have been manufacturing unconventional weapons, including the possibility of the facility being a missile installation.
--Glenn Kessler. "North Korea, Syria may be at work on nuclear facility," Washington Post, 13 September 2007; "North Korea, Syria possibly building nuclear installation," Nuclear Threat Initiative, 13 September 2007.

20 September 2007
Israel confirms operation over Syria. Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that he congratulated Prime Minister Olmert following an alleged air strike of a nuclear installation in northern Syria. During a live TV interview, Netanyahu said that he was "part of the matter from the beginning."
--Yaakov Katz. "Netanyahu: I congratulated Olmert on Syria operation. IDF holds large-scale exercise in Golan Heights," Jerusalem Post, 20 September 2007.

25 September 2007
North Korea dismisses reports that it was providing nuclear material to Syria as allegations "fabricated by lunatics." Speaking to reporters before the Six-Party talks, North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-kwan says, "Lunatics have created these rumours about a nuclear deal between us and Syria."
--Mark Tran. "North Korea denies nuclear link," Guardian Unlimited, 25 September 2007; "Yonhap: DPRK envoy reiterates denial of Syrian nuclear ties, comments on 6-party talks," Yonhap, 25 September 2007, Open Source Document KPP 20070925971002.

14 October 2007
Report alleges that Israeli airstrikes on Syria last month were directed against a site housing a partially constructed nuclear reactor. The reactor is believed to be modeled on a North Korean design used for stockpiling fuel for nuclear weapons.
--David E. Sanger and Mark Mazzetti. "Israel struck Syrian nuclear project, analysts say," New York Times, 14 October 2007.

15 October 2007
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) asks Damascus for information about the facility targeted by Israeli airstrikes.
--Mark Heinrich. "UN watchdog asks Syria about 'undeclared' atom plant," Reuters, 15 October 2007.

25 October 2007
U.S. security experts publish what they believe to be photographs of the secret Syrian nuclear facility bombed by Israel last month. Their analysis of satellite images in an area near the Euphrates river reveals what they say are buildings similar to a North Korean reactor capable of producing fuel for a nuclear bomb.
--Leonard Doyle. "US claims photos show Syrian nuclear reactor," Independent, 25 October 2007; David Albright and Paul Brannan. "Suspect reactor construction site in eastern Syria: The site of the September 6 Israeli raid?," Institute for Science and International Security, 23 October 2007.

27 October 2007
Syria removes all traces of the building targeted by Israeli airstrikes in September. This fuels speculations that the structure may have concealed a partially completed nuclear installation.
--Ian Black. "International: Syria nuclear cover-up suspected after Israeli raid," Guardian, 27 October 2007.

28 October 2007
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, tells CNN that the IAEA has not received information about any clandestine nuclear activities in Syria. He adds that he was told by the Syrians that the site was a military facility with "nothing to do with nuclear."
--"IAEA chief criticizes Israel over Syria raid," Reuters, 28 October 2007.

5 November 2007
The Syrian facility bombed by Israel in September was several years old. Commercial satellite imagery from 2003 indicates the presence of a structure similar to the most recent imagery taken from just prior to the Israeli airstrikes in September.
--Mark Hosenball. "A New Intelligence Failure?," Newsweek, 5 November 2007.

8 November 2007
The Syrian deputy prime minister for economic affairs, Abdallah al-Dardari, denies that Syria has the capability to produce nuclear energy. Al-Dardari says that "the production of nuclear energy is costly, and it requires a very big infrastructure of material, technical, and human resources, which are not available in Syria."
--"Syrian official says Syria incapable of producing nuclear energy," Syria News, 8 November 2007, Open Source Document GMP 20071108637004.



Delivery Systems - Missiles - Syria Timeline of Missile Proliferation - from NTI

Over the past 30 years, Syria has aggressively sought to acquire advanced ballistic missile systems through imports and domestic production. Syria began importing ballistic missiles in the mid-1970s and has been focused on creating an indigenous ballistic missile production capability since at least the late 1980s. Currently, it is believed that Syria possesses one of the Middle East's largest collections of surface-to-surface ballistic missile systems, which are able to deliver conventional and unconventional warheads to a number of Syria's regional neighbors. Syria is also believed to maintain a capacity to produce liquid-fuel missiles at present, as well as a program geared toward developing a solid-fuel missile production capability.

Syria's earliest known efforts to acquire a ballistic missile capability began after the country's 1973 war against neighboring Israel wherein Syria's inaccurate long-range artillery rocket systems were shown to perform poorly in combat. Syria subsequently focused on achieving better strategic parity with Israel and increasing the overall sophistication of its military hardware, including through the purchase of advanced surface-to-surface guided missiles. Syria was especially motivated by its desire to gain the ability to strike targets throughout Israel from fortified missile sites set deep within Syrian territory.

Overall, Syria's missile program goals were realized as a result of cooperation with various foreign governments that were willing to provide missile transfers, training, operational support and production assistance. In addition, regional alliances have allowed Syria to obtain the financial resources necessary to invest heavily in military upgrades and more advanced missile systems. As a result, Syria is now able to produce liquid-fueled Scud missiles in its own facilities. Moreover, Syria with the aid of foreign governments continues work towards developing the indigenous capability to produce a solid-propellant rocket motor. From a nonproliferation standpoint, Syria's missile capabilities are troubling given the chemical and possibly biological weapons programs that many analysts allege that Syria currently maintains.


Syria's import of ballistic missiles and long-range artillery rockets, as well as its ensuing missile production efforts, may be divided into three broad chronological categories: the Early Years (1960s-1970s) when Syria gained its first systems as a client-state of the Soviet Union, the Next Wave of Expansion (1979-1987) in which Syrian military expansion was again aided by the Soviet Union, and the era of New Relationships wherein Syria collaborated with countries such as China, North Korea, Iran and Russia beginning in 1988 and extending to contemporary times. This latter phase may itself be subdivided into import and production phases. Overall, the development of these capabilities has proceeded in a progressive fashion, whereby Syria has sought to augment its delivery system programs consistently over time. The array of successes and difficulties related to the development of Syria's ballistic missile and long-range artillery rocket programs have been influenced over the years by a number of important factors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Syria's relationships with foreign countries, notably those with weapon systems to export or other military aid to impart.
  • The effectiveness of international pressure in influencing Syria's relations with foreign partners.
  • Syria's ability to obtain the financial resources necessary to fund its weapon acquisition programs.
  • Syria's strong desire to balance against regional adversaries, especially neighboring Israel which has long maintained demonstrative military superiority over Syria.

The Early Years: Syria and the Soviet Union (mid-1960s and 1970s)

A weak economy as well as a lack of a strong industrial or technical base led Syria to forge a client-state relationship with the Soviet Union during the mid-1960s, which in turn provided Syria access to a wealth of Soviet weaponry and technical expertise. Following his country's crushing military defeat to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day war (in which Israel occupied the Golan Heights from Syria), Syrian President Nureddin al-Attassi became particularly focused on improving his nation's military strength. Al-Attassi's successor, President Hafez al-Assad, continued these efforts after rising to power in 1970, as he sought to enhance the sophistication of Syria's weaponry in preparation for an imminent war with Israel.

Overall, Syria received a steady flow of assistance from the Soviets that included arms and equipment, as well as military training and a regular stationed corps of Soviet advisors in Syria. In the early 1970s, President al-Assad was able to acquire long-range artillery rockets—the FROG-7s—from the Soviets. The FROG (Free Rocket over Ground) was Syria's first surface-to-surface delivery system capable of transporting conventional warheads over distances up to 70km. The Syrians fired approximately 25 of these rockets into Israel during their October 1973 war, although only a small percentage struck their intended targets. This poor performance of the FROGs in combat, combined with Syria's ultimate defeat to the Israelis in the war, led the Syrians to pursue more sophisticated weaponry from the Soviets immediately following the cessation of hostilities with the Israelis.

According to reports, it took little time for the Soviet Union to acquiesce to Syrian appeals for qualitatively more useful weaponry. Among the voluminous post-war shipments from the Soviets, Syria received its first ballistic missiles—the Soviet-made Scud-B. Information about the quantity of Scud-Bs received by Syria from the Soviet Union has remained scarce over the years. Estimates of the numbers of Scud-Bs shipped to Syria during the 1970s range up to 200 missiles.

Far less vague, however, is that by 1974, Syria was expending huge portions of the country's annual domestic budget on military procurements. Soviet military aid also increased dramatically throughout the 1970s with thousands of Soviet military advisers, technicians and instructors regularly stationed in Syria. Trips by President Hafez al-Assad to Moscow were commonplace in this decade, as were other high-level diplomatic exchanges that were geared towards negotiating new arms deals. Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Libya provided financial support to Syria's missile and weapon purchases, while Syria's massive arms buildup also caused the country to fall into heavy financial debt to the Soviet Union.

The Next Wave: Syria and the Soviet Union (1979 to 1987)

By the end of the 1970s, a new crisis was brewing between Syria and Israel as reports began to emerge that Syria was looking to transfer its Soviet-made SA-6 anti-aircraft missiles into neighboring Lebanon. Such a move would have ended an implicit Israeli-Syrian arrangement whereby Syrian troops were permitted to penetrate unchallenged into neighboring Lebanon in return for, among other things, Syria's exclusion of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in Lebanon. While it was not immediately clear that Syria would indeed transfer its SAMs to Lebanon, festering distrust and animosity grew between the two countries. This led Israeli and Syrian fighter jets to clash on numerous occasions in the skies over Lebanon, the result of which was the glaring reality that Israel's military hardware continued to outclass that of the Syrians.

Consequently, and as the potential for the outbreak of full-scale armed conflict loomed on the horizon, the period between 1979 and 1987 marked a new wave of military expansion wherein Syria sought to achieve a better strategic balance with Israel. Overall, Syria's defense spending by 1980 accounted for more than half of that nation's total annual budget. Syria still received advanced Soviet weaponry, including the Soviets' newest air-to-air missiles as well as the AT-4 (Spigot) anti-tank missile that reportedly had not previously been delivered outside the Warsaw Pact.

By April 1981, the conflict between Israel and Syria increased in intensity as new reports surfaced suggesting that Syria had indeed installed anti-aircraft missiles in Lebanon. With the region on the brink of war, the United States dispatched special envoy Philip Habib to engage in shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East in the hopes of diffusing the situation. Habib's helped to engineer a tense stalemate for a time, although it was peppered with incidents wherein Syrian SA-6 missiles were fired at Israeli aircraft conducting reconnaissance missions over missile sites in Lebanon. The stalemate crumbled in June 1982, however, as Israeli forces destroyed or severely damaged more than 30 Syrian SAM batteries in Lebanon. Combat between Israeli and Syrian forces persisted through the summer and fall of 1982, while the Soviets continued to provide arms and equipment re-supplies along with ongoing on-site assistance by the growing numbers of Soviet military experts embedded with Syrian troops.

In early 1983, Syria received new air-to-air missiles and SAM-5 batteries from the Soviets which were reportedly installed in Syria and manned by Soviet crews. Syria also allegedly moved its missiles not yet destroyed by Israeli attacks back into Syrian territory, although by the fall of 1983, new reports emerged of Syrian SAM-9s being positioned in Lebanon. In December, the United States conducted its own attacks on Syrian antiaircraft missile sites in Lebanon, which Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger described as a "defense measure" to protect U.S. peacekeepers' reconnaissance flights. Meanwhile, Israeli bombardments of Syrian anti-aircraft missile positions in Lebanon continued, although the attacks diminished after a large number of missiles and troops were repositioned to within Syrian territories in June 1985.

Within this overall tense environment, the Soviets began shipping more advanced SS-21 ballistic missiles to Syria by the fall of 1983. The transfer of SS-21s to Syria was the first such deployment of this solid-fuel Soviet missile outside the Warsaw Pact. Several Syrian tests of this new 70km-range missile occurred in October 1983, and it is estimated that Syria ultimately received at least several dozen SS-21s but possibly up to 200 such missiles.

Buoyed by their success in gaining this new system, Syria also attempted to obtain from the Soviets their 900km range Scaleboard SS-12 and their shorter-range SS-23. Moscow allegedly refused both requests in 1986 and 1987 due to the constraints of the INF Treaty which it had recently signed. Given the Soviets' unwillingness to provide new missile systems to Syria, and the reported lack of success related to Syrian attempts to extend the range of their Scud-B arsenal, Syria looked elsewhere for new missile capabilities.

New Relationships: Syria and China, North Korea, Iran and Russia (1988 to Present)

By the late 1980s, Syria's attempts to build up its ballistic missile capability were stymied. Syria's longtime military benefactor, the Soviet Union, was unable to provide the more advanced, longer-range systems that Syria sought in order to attain the capability to strike various points in Israel from deep within Syrian territory. This, in turn, led Syria to engage with other nations about new ballistic missile transfers.

Indeed, by 1988 Syria was negotiating with China for the purchase of M-9 solid-fueled missiles with a range up to 600km. The two countries successfully negotiated a deal to send M-9s to Syria in 1989, although at the time, the M-9 was still in development in China. Meanwhile, as details of the Syrian-Chinese agreement became public, the United States rebuked China and initiated a flurry of diplomatic activity to try to prevent any such missile transfer. Ultimately, these U.S. efforts appeared to cause the Chinese to shy away from their plans to sell M-9s to Syria.

As a result, Syria next approached North Korea about ballistic missiles sometime in 1989. Syria reportedly sought to purchase more advanced ballistic missiles from North Korea as well as gain assistance in developing an indigenous missile production capability in Syria. And yet, Syria remained an underdeveloped third world country lacking the resources to fund these expensive acquisitions outright. Syria's lack of hard currency thus prevented its plans with North Korea from immediately moving forward. Financial difficulties also reportedly prevented Syria from manifesting a major arms deal that it had negotiated with Russia in the early 1990s, which was reportedly to include long-range missiles as well as SA-10 and SA-11 missiles.

Soon thereafter, however, Syria did gain the means to return to its plans with North Korean due to a $2 billion compensation package provided to Syria by Saudi Arabia in return for its support of the 1990-91 coalition efforts to oust Iraq from Kuwaiti lands, as well as due to financial assistance provided by Libya. Syria reportedly then contracted with North Korea for the purchase of 150 Scud-C missiles and related equipment, with long-term deliveries set to continue until at least 1995. These Scuds, a modified version of the Scud-B that are capable of delivering conventional or chemical warheads and traveling up to 500-600km, were reportedly part of a larger deal wherein North Korea agreed to build two missile assembly and electronics facilities in Syria—one in Aleppo and one in Hama.

Russia is in the process of selling the short-range anti-aircraft missile system, known as the Strelets to Syria. The Strelets can be mounted on land, sea, and air-based carriers, four modules can be mounted on a carrier, each module consisting of two missiles. It is designed to shoot stinger-type Strelets missiles. The Strelets system functions within a radius of 4-5 kilometers. The missile would be used to protect small facilities within Syria.

Deliveries of Scud-Cs from North Korea to Syria may have occurred on several occasions throughout 1991, with North Korean ships sailing in circuitous routes to avoid international detection, and with countries such as Iran, Yugoslavia and Cyprus acting as transshipping hubs. Syria conducted flight tests of the Scud-C in late July 1991, and the missiles were believed to have become operational in Syria in 1992.
Meanwhile, worries about Chinese-Syrian dealings re-emerged as U.S. intelligence reported in April 1991 that China was selling, or was about to sell, ballistic missiles to Syria. By the summer, the George H.W. Bush administration in the United States stated that the Chinese were planning to sell M-9 and M-11 missiles to Pakistan and Syria. Further reports surfaced in September 1991 alleging that Western intelligence personnel had seen 24 M-9 transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker headed to China on 15 November 1991—the first official U.S. visit to China since Tiananmen Square in 1989—where he was said to have extracted a commitment from the Chinese not to sell M-9 missiles to Syria. By the end of November, however, new reports surfaced that the Chinese have secretly agreed to assist the Syrians in manufacturing their own M-9 missiles—a side stepping of the agreement with the United States not to sell M-9s to the Syrians outright.

Work in the meantime was underway by 1992 on two Syrian missile plants, geared to produce Scuds, and possibly M-9 missiles. North Korea provided an array of support and building assistance to these Syrian efforts, as well as delivery of missile-production and assembly equipment, some of which had been transshipped through Iran. Iran also participated in Scud-C tests with Syrian and North Korean personnel. Chinese assistance has been reported, including through the 1992 shipment of ammonium perchlorate, an ingredient for a solid-fuel missile project.

In ensuing years, Syria continued work on its indigenous missile production capability, while also maintaining a flow of imports into the country. Syria conducted missile tests—at least once in conjunction with Iranian counterparts—and sent its missile technicians to North Korea for ongoing technical training. In addition, Syria received technical assistance from other countries, including Russia with whom Syria has established rising military ties, and China from which Syria reportedly received sensitive guidance equipment from a missile production firm and another load of raw material, notably 10 tons of powdered aluminum for use in its missile production endeavors. Moreover, Syria allegedly provided North Korean missile technicians with information and a sampling of the Soviet-made SS-21 solid-fuel missile system.

In the late 1990s, the United States charged that Syria was cooperating with Iran on solid-fuel missile technology and adapting Scud-Bs to longer range Scud-Cs. Then, by 2000, unsubstantiated reports suggest that North Korea delivered 50 Scud-D (Nodong) missiles and seven TELs to Syria, although it is possible that at least some of these missiles were procured by Syria on behalf of other countries in the region. Nonetheless, possession of the 700km-range Scud-D allows Syria to strike any point in Israel from deep within own borders. Reports suggest that Syria flight-tested a Scud-D that year. In 2001, Israel also claimed that Syria launched an unknown Scud model from its Aleppo missile production facility.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated in 2002 that Syria had hundreds of FROGS, Scuds and SS-21 short-range ballistic missiles, as well as underground hollowed out facilities that house Syria's missile launchers and missile stockpiles. Syria was also deemed able to produce Scuds mainly using domestically produced parts. The CIA estimated that Syria would likely continue its efforts to pursue even longer-range missile capabilities due to its regional concerns.

In April 2005, Russia finalized the sale of the short-range anti-aircraft missile system, known as the Strelets to Syria. The Strelets can be mounted on land, sea, and air based carriers, four modules can be mounted on a carrier, each module consisting of two missiles. It is designed to shoot stinger-type Strelets (arrow) missiles. The missile would be used to protect small facilities within Syria. Syria states that this missile would only be used for defensive purposes. The United States and Israel wanted to stop the transaction and felt that this sale would threaten the military balance of the Middle East. Israel's main concern is that this missile may find its way to Hizbollah and Palestinian militant organizations which may jeopardize Israeli territory and military. However, Russia stipulated that it will only sell the Strelets system to Syria if it agrees to mandatory site inspections by Russians to monitor the use of the Strelets.

Following reports on Moscow's intention to sell Syria 300km range Iskander-E missiles and protests from Israel and the United States, President Vladimir Putin decided to stop the sale of Iskander missiles to Syria in order to avoid altering the regional balance of power. In late May of 2005, Syrian missile parts were found in the city of Kirikhan, Turkey. Syria stated that the missiles accidentally landed in the area during military training and had no hostile intentions. Israel military officials alleged that the missiles consisted of the one Scud B and two Scud Ds.

Evidence that Syria continues to advance its missile technology and capabilities was revealed in May 2006 in a de-classified report to the United States Congress. The report indicates that for the period 1 January to 31 December 2004, “Syria continued to seek help from abroad to establish a solid-propellant rocket motor development and production capability.” The report also states that Syria’s liquid-propellant missile program continues to depend on essential foreign equipment and assistance, and that “Syria was developing longer range missile programs, such as the Scud D and possibly other variants with assistance from North Korea and Iran."[1]

Later in July 2006, there were reports that an Iranian cargo plane suspected of containing missiles and launchers for Hezbollah was blocked from reaching its destination in Syria with the aid of U.S. allies in Iraq and Turkey. Satellite photos depicting Iranian crews loading three missile launchers and eight crates housing C-802 Noor missiles onto the aircraft confirmed an earlier tip to U.S. Intelligence of an impending shipment of fresh supplies to be used in battle against Israeli military forces during the 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel.[2] Syria denies that it was sending missiles to Hezbollah and claims that it has never supplied Hezbollah with missiles.[3] Israel continues to refute these claims, and in August 2006 alleged that post-war analysis of artillery shells revealed that rockets supplied to Hezbollah were manufactured in Syria. [4]

In January 2007, Syria reportedly test-fired a Scud D short-range ballistic missile capable of striking anywhere in neighboring Israel. Israel’s Arrow Missile Defense System detected the launch and tracked the test. [5] If the reports are accurate, the test substantiates earlier reports that Syria has indeed received Scud D missiles from North Korea.

[1] “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions 1 January-31 December 2004,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 13 May 2006.

[2] John Diamond, “Officials: U.S. blocked missiles to Hezbollah,” USA Today, 17 August 2006.


[3] Transcript of the Charlie Rose Show, “A Discussion with a Representative of the Syrian Government; Some Context on Conflict in Mideast and Its Wider Implications,” Public Broadcasting Services (PBS), 18 July 2006.


[4] Peter Spiegel and Laura King, “Israel Says Syria, Not Just Iran, Supplied Missiles to Hezbollah,” Los Angeles Times, 31 August 2006.


[5] “Israeli media says Syria has tested Scud,” Agence France Presse, 2 February 2007.


Aircraft - Sukhoi SU-24MK - 20 Aircraft

Syria has acquired the Russian Sukhoi SU-24MK bomber aircraft. This aircraft serves in the Russian Air Force as a Strategic Bomber able to deliver the Russian TN-1000 and TN-1200 Nuclear Bombs. Syria could use these aircraft in a variety of means to deliver strategic payloads.

Syria - Unident Bomber Sqn - Base at T4

Su-24MK (`Fencer D'): Export version of the above, with downgraded avionics. Some serve with Russian Air Forces (notably at Kubinka with squadron of 237 GvTsPAT) wearing non-standard (export) camouflage, but red star nationality markings.


(Su-24M): Nine pylons under fuselage, each wingroot glove and outer wings for guided and unguided air-to-surface weapons, including TN-1000 and TN-1200 nuclear weapons, up to four TV or laser-guided bombs, missiles such as Kh-23 (NATO AS-7 'Kerry'), Kh-25ML (AS-10 'Karen'), Kh-58 (AS-11 'Kilter'), Kh-25MP (AS-12 'Kegler'), Kh-59 (AS-13 'Kingbolt'), Kh-29 (AS-14 'Kedge') and Kh-31A/P (AS-17 'Krypton'), rockets of 57 mm to 370 mm calibre, bombs (typically 38 x 100 kg FAB-100), 23 mm gun pods or external fuel tanks; two R-60 (AA-8 'Aphid') air-to-air missiles can be carried for self-defence. No internal weapons bay. One GSh-6-23M six-barrel 23 mm Gatling type gun inside fairing on starboard side of fuselage undersurface; fairing for recording camera on other side. 

Specifications (Sukhoi Su-24 (Fencer))


Base Series Designation: Sukhoi Su-24 (Fencer)
Classification Type: Long Range Strike/Attack Aircraft
Contractor: Sukhoi - Soviet Union - View All
Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Initial Year of Service: 1974
Crew / Passengers: 2
Production Total: 1,200* - View Totals Page

*Sometimes an estimate when actual production numbers
are not available. A value of 0 indicative of NA.


Length: 80.71 ft | 24.60 m
Wingspan/Width: 57.87 ft | 17.64 m
Height: 20.31 ft | 6.19 m
Empty Weight: 49,163 lbs | 22,300 kg
MTOW: 87,524 lbs | 39,700 kg


Engine(s): 2 x Saturn/Lyulka AL-21F-3A turbojet engines with afterburn generating 24,690lbs of thrust each. - Compare Stats

Max Speed: 1,439 mph | 2,316 km/h | 1,251 kts
Max Range: 652 miles | 1,050 km
Service Ceiling: 57,415 ft | 17,500 m | 10.9 miles
Climb Rate: 29,525 ft/min


External Hardpoints: 9

1 x 23mm GSh-23-6 six-barreled cannon

Mission-specific ordnance on nine external stores amounting to 17,635lbs can comprise of any of the following munitions:

2 x AA-8 "Aphid" (R-60) air-to-air missiles
AS-7 "Kerry" (Kh-23) air-to-surface missile
AS-10 "Karen" (Kh-25ML) air-to-surface missile
AS-11 "Kilter" (Kh-58) air-to-surface missile
AS-12 "Kegler" (Kh-25MP) air-to-surface missile
AS-13 "Kingbolt" (kh-59) air-to-surface missile
AS-14 "Kedge" (Kh-29) air-to-surface missile
AS-17 "Krypton" (Kh-31) air-to-surface missile
TN-1000 Nuclear Weapon
TN-1200 Nuclear Weapon
Laser-Guided Bombs
Rocket Pods
Conventional Bombs


Video Sukhoi SU-24

Last Updated ( Friday, 25 April 2008 )
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