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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Jul 05th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Opinions and Editorials arrow Syria Joins the Axis of Evil - John Bolton
Syria Joins the Axis of Evil - John Bolton PDF Print E-mail
Written by WSJ   
Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Former US UN Amb. Mr. Bolton is senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defeating America at the U.N. and Abroad," forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.
Former US UN Amb. Mr. Bolton is senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defeating America at the U.N. and Abroad," forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.

The six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program are set to resume on Sept. 27 in Beijing. Since the last session, a raft of "working group" meetings and Democratic People's Republic of Korea propaganda events have purportedly shown "progress" in implementing the Feb. 13 agreement to eliminate the North's nuclear capabilities. On Oct. 2, South Korean President Roh Muh-hyun will travel to Pyongyang to embrace Kim Jong Il. Mr. Roh hopes to boost political allies in a close presidential race against opponents of his appeasement policies. 

But this entire diplomatic minuet has been reduced almost to insignificance by news from an unexpected place: the Middle East. A dramatic and apparently successful night-time Israeli air attack on Syria, whose details remain extraordinarily closely held, has increased the stakes. North Korea immediately condemned the raid, an action that raises this question: What is it about a raid in Syria that got Kim Jong Il's attention?

Israel's specific target is less important than the fact that with its objection to the raid, North Korea may have tipped its hand. Pyongyang's interest in the raid may be evidence of secret nuclear cooperation between the regime and Syria. There is much still unknown about a potential North Korea project in Syria, such as whether it was a direct sale of technology or equipment to the Syrians, a stand-alone facility or some sort of joint venture. In any case, the threat to Israel of such a project would be acute, perhaps existential -- which is why it would risk all-out regional war to strike pre-emptively.

Outsourcing strategic programs is nothing new for North Korea. For years, Pyongyang has been an aggressive proliferator of ballistic-missile technology, especially to the Middle East. In 1998, North Korea conducted a successful Taepo Dong missile launch and shortly thereafter gained an enormous propaganda boost by announcing a moratorium on launch-testing from its territory. But it didn't halt missile development and benefited greatly from Iran's ballistic missile program. Sharing data made eminent sense since both countries used the same basic Scud technology. Having successfully worked this shell game in ballistic missiles, it should come as no surprise that North Korea would try it again in the nuclear field.

Iran's increasing hegemony over Syria makes Syrian-North Korean cooperation in nuclear matters unlikely without its consent. Although Iran's involvement here is murky, its incentive to conceal its own nuclear program raises the possibility of a three-way deal. Most chillingly, the United States and Israel must now ask whether the Iranian and North Korean nuclear challenges can be resolved in isolation from one another.

Until more details become public, debate over the full extent of Syrian-North Korean cooperation will continue. What the Israeli attack highlights, however -- even if it does not prove conclusively for now -- is that North Korea is a global threat.

If the North is engaging in nuclear cooperation with Syria, the Feb. 13 agreement should be terminated. How much more evidence of mendacity do we need before we wake up? In fact, the Feb. 13 agreement is now merely a slogan. Its deadlines and its "actions for actions" mantra have disappeared, lost in a "process" of endless meetings and working groups. This "process" is inherently favorable to Kim Jong Il because it enables the North's legendary ability to trade the same obligation multiple times for tangible rewards, whether or not it performs.

Even if we "only" have evidence of continued North Korean ballistic missile cooperation with Syria, that alone should keep the North on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Syria -- and its senior partner, Iran -- are both long-time denizens of that same list of state sponsors of terrorism. Can we really delist North Korea when it partners with other terrorist states in the most destructive technologies?

Moreover, where are Syria's ballistic missiles -- and its weapons of mass destruction -- aimed? With American forces at risk in Iraq, no increase in the threats they face is acceptable, especially given Syria's record on Iraq to date. Syria remains at war with Israel and with Lebanon's Cedar Revolution. No one concerned about Israel's security or Lebanon's democracy should countenance giving North Korea a pass on the terrorism issue.

If the evidence is uncertain or mixed, the State Department will, unfortunately, desperately cling to "the process." If so, to protect the U.S. from the national security risk and international humiliation of another Pyongyang diplomatic triumph, we must insist on real dismantling of the North's nuclear program and a broad, deep and lasting verification mechanism. Moreover, what was once a subsidiary verification issue -- North Korean outsourcing off the Peninsula -- now assumes critical importance.

When will real verification experts from across our government finally receive a significant role? As one verifier said recently, "we'll know what's really going on when U.S. physicists start talking to [North Korean] physicists." State's diplomats should welcome this assistance, although traditionally they view the arrival of verifiers into arms control negotiations the same way Al Capone saw Elliot Ness and "The Untouchables." Of course, beyond negotiations, we need the concrete verification itself, which is barely a mirage in the six-party talks.

Developments in Syria should have brought the administration up short. Instead, the State Department has accelerated its efforts to declare "success," a deeply troubling and dangerous sign. This reflects a cultural problem at State, where "zeal for the deal" too often trumps the substance of the deal itself.

President Bush stands at a dispositive point regarding his personal legacy on North Korea. Until now, one could say with a straight face, if not entirely accurately, that implementing the Feb. 13 agreement was the State Department's responsibility. No longer. The Israeli strike and the possible Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation associated with it have presidential consequences. Further concessions to the North can now be laid only at the White House door, just as only the president can bring a tougher, more realistic attitude to the issue. That would be a real legacy.

Mr. Bolton is senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defeating America at the U.N. and Abroad," forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.

September 25, 2007; Wall Street Journal, Page A19



related article (archives WSJ):

North Korea and Syria
September 14, 2007; Page A12

A nuclear-armed North Korea is dangerous enough. A North Korea that shares its nuclear technology with other bad actors is worse -- especially if the partner-state is known to be cozy with terrorists. The potential nexus between WMD and terrorism is the biggest threat to the security of the U.S. and its allies.

So reports this week in the New York Times, the Washington Post and elsewhere that North Korea may be cooperating with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility are worth taking seriously. Syria has close ties with Iran and provides sanctuary within its borders for Hezbollah, a group that the National Intelligence Estimate released in July warns may be prepared to launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. Pyongyang has a long, well-documented history of sharing missile technology with Syria, and it is all too believable that sharing nuclear knowhow could be next.

Israel is said to be the primary source of the intelligence on a North Korean-Syrian nuclear connection. But neither Israel nor the Bush Administration has commented officially on this or another mysterious event -- Israel's flyover and apparent raid last week on targets inside Syria. Given the Administration's experience with prewar intelligence on WMD in Iraq, it's understandable that it would want to have solid evidence before going public.

Meanwhile, however, the six-party talks on the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program have picked up steam, with Pyongyang promising to dismantle its facilities by the end of the year and the U.S. pledging to consider such goodies as fuel aid and removing North Korea from its list of terror-sponsoring states. U.S., Russian and Chinese inspectors turned up at the Yongbyon nuclear facility this week.

If North Korea is moving its nuclear facilities to Syria -- or "merely" proliferating -- it would undermine everything at the heart of that agreement, as well as cross a long-stated American red line that Pyongyang not proliferate. Even if it is unsure of the full implications of the intelligence, the Administration has an obligation not to proceed with a nuclear deal until Pyongyang and Damascus come clean.



North Korea, Syria Officials Meet
Associated Press
September 24, 2007

SEOUL -- North Korea's No. 2 leader met with a Syrian delegation in Pyongyang on Saturday, the North's media reported, amid suspicions of a secret nuclear connection between the two countries.

The meeting occurred as the five countries trying to persuade the North to give up its nuclear pursuit prepare for the resumption of formal negotiations. China announced Friday that the next round of six-nation talks with the North -- which also include Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. -- will begin Thursday in Beijing. The talks were expected to occur last week but were delayed for reasons that haven't been disclosed.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim Yong Nam, head of the North's rubber-stamp legislature and titular head of state, had "a friendly talk" with a Syrian delegation led by Saaeed Eleia Dawood, director of the organizational department of Syria's Baath Arab Socialist Party. On Friday, the Syrian official held talks with Choe Tae Bok, a senior official of the North's ruling Workers' Party.

The delegation's trip to Pyongyang came amid suspicions that the North may be providing nuclear assistance to Syria. Both countries deny the charge.

Syria's nuclear program has long been considered to be minimal, and the country is known to have only a small research reactor. But international attention focused on Syria after a Sept. 6 Israeli air incursion over Syria in which U.S. officials have said Israeli warplanes struck a target.

Andrew Semmel, acting U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy, said earlier this month that North Koreans were in Syria, and that Syria may have had contacts with "secret suppliers" to obtain nuclear equipment.

Copyright © 2007 Associated Press





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