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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Apr 12th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Search Is Urged for Syrian Nuclear Sites
Search Is Urged for Syrian Nuclear Sites PDF Print E-mail
Written by Washington Post, Reuters, Debka   
Thursday, 29 May 2008


Also, Missile-related shipment to Syria stopped, U.S. says

Search Is Urged for Syrian Nuclear Sites
U.S. Presses U.N. on 3 Alleged Facilities
By Joby Warrick and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 29, 2008; Page A14

The Bush administration is pressing U.N. inspectors to broaden their search for possible secret nuclear facilities in Syria, hinting that Damascus's nuclear program might be bigger than the single alleged reactor destroyed by Israeli warplanes last year.

At least three sites have been identified by U.S. officials and passed along to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is negotiating with Syria for permission to conduct inspections in the country, according to U.S. government officials and Western diplomats. U.S. officials want to know if the suspect sites may have been support facilities for the alleged Al Kibar reactor destroyed in an Israeli air raid Sept. 6, the sources said.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, which has been seeking access to the Al Kibar site since shortly after the bombing, has acknowledged receiving requests to expand the scope of its inspections, but provided no details.

U.S. government officials declined to describe the specific sites that have drawn interest, or to discuss how they were identified. However, the United States and other Western governments have long been interested in identifying possible locations for a facility in Syria that might have supplied nuclear fuel rods for a Syrian reactor. Although the Al Kibar site was described as nearly operational at the time of the Sept. 6 bombing, it had no clear source of the uranium fuel necessary for operation, according to U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats familiar with the site.

Syria, which has denied having a nuclear weapons program, has not yet responded to IAEA requests for a firm date for inspections.

U.S. intelligence officials contend that the Al Kibar facility was built with North Korean assistance, to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in an interview that the intelligence community's insight into Syria's nuclear ambitions has deepened since the Israeli raid.

"Do not assume that Al Kibar exhausted our knowledge of Syrian efforts with regard to nuclear weapons," Hayden said. "I am very comfortable -- certainly with Al Kibar and what was there, and what the intent was. It was the highest confidence level. And nothing since the attack last September has changed our mind. In fact, events since the attack give us even greater confidence as to what it was."

He predicted that Syria would "almost certainly attempt to delay and deceive" the IAEA. But he added: "We know what they did."

The absence of a clear fuel source for the reactor -- as well as a fuel-reprocessing facility for extracting plutonium -- has baffled experts who have studied the Syrian project. "It's like having a car but not enough gas to run it," said David Albright, a former U.N. nuclear inspector in Iraq and the president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

But weapons experts also noted that Western intelligence has had a mixed record on the reliability of leads provided to U.N. inspectors. "U.S. intelligence has had a serious credibility problem on weapons of mass destruction for a decade," said John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, adding that "they have been known to be right on occasions."

Weapons experts also noted that IAEA inspectors face a difficult task in assessing claims about Syria's program. After the Sept. 6 bombing, Syria bulldozed the ruins of the Al Kibar facility and erected a new building on the same spot. "I think by now they've had enough time to cover their trail," Pike said.

In recent weeks, the Bush administration has increased diplomatic pressure on Syria. Yesterday, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said Syria was caught last year trying to procure equipment that could have been used to test ballistic missile components.



Missile-related shipment to Syria stopped, U.S. says
By Arshad Mohammed
Thursday, May 29, 2008; 12:01 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four countries last year prevented Syria from receiving equipment that could be used to test ballistic missile components, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley described the previously undisclosed incident in a speech to members of the Proliferation Security Initiative, a network of countries that seeks to stop illicit weapons of mass destruction shipments.

The Bush administration has portrayed the PSI effort, which was launched five years ago and has more than 90 nations as members, as a significant success in its drive to prevent biological, chemical or nuclear terrorism.

Analysts say it is hard to judge its effectiveness because members are reluctant to disclose successes to avoid betraying sources that provide intelligence needed to stop shipments.

"One example of its success occurred in February 2007, when four nations represented in this room worked together to interdict equipment bound for Syria -- equipment that could have been used to test ballistic missile components," Hadley said at a conference to mark PSI's fifth anniversary.

"Interdictions like this one have been successful all over the world -- and have stopped many shipments of sensitive materials destined for Iran, North Korea, and Syria," he said, providing no further details.

The United States in April released photographs of what it said was a Syrian nuclear reactor built with North Korean help. Israel destroyed the reactor in a September 6 air strike that was initially shrouded in secrecy out of what U.S. officials said was fear that its disclosure could prompt Syrian retaliation.

Syria has denied the facility was a nuclear reactor.

U.S. Acting Undersecretary of State John Rood on Tuesday said there had been dozens of PSI interdictions, including preventing the export of dual-use missile-related technologies as well as nuclear-related items to Iran. He gave no details.

Dual-use technologies are those with both civilian and military applications.


Hadley argued that the countries in PSI -- some of whom do not want their involvement publicized -- need to explain their efforts and to prevent their citizens from becoming complacent about the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

"This is no time to fall under the spell of an apparent calm or the illusion of false security," he said.

In an effort to deter countries, militant groups or individuals from promoting chemical, biological or nuclear attacks, Hadley repeated the long-standing U.S. position that it reserved the right to use "overwhelming force" in response.

Echoing a speech he made in February, he also said the United States would hold "fully accountable" those who support "terrorist groups" to acquire WMD "by facilitating, financing, or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts."

Robert Einhorn, a former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, praised PSI but stressed that countries had made such efforts for years.

"PSI was a good idea and it provides value added to what was done before," he said, saying holding exercises had created habits of cooperation and smoothed the way for joint action.

"How do we measure success here, especially where the partners are understandably reluctant to share information about successes or failures?" he said. "It's very hard."



Washington asks nuclear watchdog to search for two more Syrian nuclear sites – report
May 29, 2008, 3:00 PM (GMT+02:00)

According to the Washington Post, US officials have identified at least three suspected nuclear sites in Syria, two more than the Al Kibar reactor Israel bombed last year, and passed the information to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This confirms the Oct. 25, 2007, disclosure by DEBKAfile military sources that the Israeli raid of Sept. 6 had destroyed at least two nuclear sites in Syria.

Washington released its request to the IAEA now - both to point up its disapproval of the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s peace talks with Damascus and to continue the pressure on Syrian president Bashar Assad. More such disclosures are therefore expected.

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told the WP that the intelligence community’s insight into Syria’s nuclear ambitions had deepened since the Israeli raid. “Do not assume that Al Kibra exhausted our knowledge of Syrian efforts with regard to nuclear weapons.”

Our military sources add: The fact that Syria was building three interconnected nuclear sites, a North Korean reactor and facilities for supplying nuclear fuel rods and fuel processing for extracting plutonium, proves Damascus was close to completing a weaponization program fueled by plutonium rather than enriched uranium. Both American and Israeli sources reported that the reactor was only weeks or months away from being ready for production.

Our sources add that if Syria was that close, how much closer must Iran, the senior partner in the alliance, be to its goal of a homemade nuclear weapon?

Syria has not responded to any IAEA requests for a date to conduct inspections.



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