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US claims North Korean link to Israeli bombing of Syria

The mystery over the Israeli bombing of Syria took a new twist today when US intelligence agencies showed a video claiming that the target had been a nuclear plant being built with North Korean help.

After seven months of silence and evasion from the Bush administration, the CIA CIA: see Central Intelligence Agency.

(1) (Confidentiality Integrity Authentication) The three important concerns with regards to information security. Encryption is used to provide confidentiality (privacy, secrecy).
 director, Michael Hayden, briefed members of the Senate and House armed services The Constitution authorizes Congress to raise, support, and regulate armed services for the national defense. The President of the United States is commander in chief of all the branches of the services and has ultimate control over most military matters. , intelligence and foreign affairs committees, saying his weapons specialists found the evidence compelling.

US officials said today the Bush administration was putting the information out in order to clear the decks (Naut.) to remove every unnecessary incumbrance in preparation for battle; to prepare for action.

See also: Deck
 before doing a deal with North Korea to dismantle its nuclear programme.

A US official who had seen the video said: "We cannot move forward (on a deal with North Korea) unless you acknowledge we are doing this with our eyes wide open This article contains links, text or other information that has been inserted due to a business arrangement by the Wikimedia Foundation rather than the usual Wikipedia editing process. It may or may not comply with all of Wikipedia's normal editorial standards. . And we are going ahead with our eyes wide open."

The video, which is expected to be made public later, is a collection of material from various sources, in addition to Israeli intelligence. There is no tape from inside the alleged reactor, only two still photographs.

The CIA claims in the video, which shows the site before and after the bombing, that the alleged reactor is similar to one in Yongbyon, 55 miles north of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

The alleged Syrian plant was at an early stage, and no material had been imported that would have allowed Syria to build a nuclear weapon.

Although Congress members briefed today are bound by a code of secrecy, one of them, Pete Hoekstra This article is about the American politician. For the Dutch footballer, see Peter Hoekstra (footballer).

Peter "Pete" Hoekstra (born October 30, 1953) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Michigan.
, a Republican, said, "It is a serious proliferation issue, both for the Middle East and the countries that may be involved in Asia".

The committee was told the reactor was designed to produce a small amount of plutonium, a highly radioactive substance that can be used to build a nuclear bomb.

The Bush administration, in releasing the video, is taking the risk that the North Korean regime may use it as an excuse to walk out off US-North Korean talks about dismantling its nuclear programme.

Under a deal agreed last year between North Korea, the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, Pyonggpang is required to detail whether it provided help to Syria and other countries round the world but so far has failed to deliver.

The Syrian government today denied it had been building a nuclear reactor with North Korean help. Syria's ambassador to Britain, Sami al-Khiyami, described the video as ridiculous: "Unfortunately the scenario of taking and retaking RETAKING. The taking one's goods, wife, child, &c., from another, who without right has taken possession thereof. Vide Recaption; Rescue.  pictures looks like what happened before the Iraq war Iraq War: see under Persian Gulf Wars.
Iraq War
 or Second Persian Gulf War

Brief conflict in 2003 between Iraq and a combined force of troops largely from the U.S. and Great Britain; and a subsequent U.S.
, when the US administration was trying to convince the world that Iraq had nuclear weapons."

In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration gave a presentation to the United Nations security council in which it showed photographs and other material that it claimed amounted to evidence of Saddam Hussein's pursuit of WMD WMD

white muscle disease.
 but was subsequently proven to be false. Joseph Cirincione Joseph Cirincione (b. November 13, 1949) is the Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. He served for eight years as the Director for Non-Proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. , a leading expert on nuclear proliferation Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "nuclear weapon States" by the  and head of the Washington-based Ploughshares Fund The Ploughshares Fund is a public grantmaking foundation that supports initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and other weapons of war, and to prevent conflicts that could lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction. , said: "We should learn first from the past and be very cautious about any intelligence from the US about other country's weapons."

He insisted there had been no justification for Israeli launching the strike on another country, given there was no imminent danger.

He added that Syria was a sideshow See Windows SideShow.  that should not deflect attention from the bigger prize of North Korea dismantling its nuclear programme after decades of tension. "The administration is trying to clear up old business so it does not get in the way of an agreement with North Korea."

The Israeli strike on September 6 destroyed a large building in the desert near the village of At Tibnah in the Dayr az Zwr region, 90 miles from the Iraqi border.

The strike was reminiscent of one on the Iraqi reactor at Osirk in 1981. But, unlike the Iraqi preemptive strike Preemptive strike may refer to:
  • Preemptive strike (see preemptive war), a military attack designed to prevent, or reduce the impact of, an anticipated attack from an enemy
  • Preemptive Strike
, the attack on Syria initially remained covered in mystery, with President George Bush and other leaders repeatedly deflecting reporters' questions.

At the time, the British intelligence service, MI6, privately briefed the British government that Syria had been building a nuclear reactor. The British government accepted this as credible, in spite of MI6's loss of credibility over the non-existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction Weapons that are capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Weapons of mass destruction can be high explosives or nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons, but exclude the means of transporting or .

Following the air strike, Syria covered over the wrecked site and built a new building. If Syria had been secretly building a nuclear plant, it would have been in breach of the non-proliferation treaty, which requires Damascus to notify the United Nations watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency International Atomic Energy Agency: see Atomic Energy Agency, International.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

International organization officially founded in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
, of any such plans.

A US delegation, which left Washington this week, has been engaged in a fresh round of talks with North Korea to try to end the impasse over its relations with other countries, in particular Syria.

Before the release of the video, the North Korea foreign ministry issued a statement expressing optimism about the new round of talks.

The US media and some analysts speculated that neo-conservatives in the Bush administration, led by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, wanted the North Korea-Syria link out to try to wreck the prospect of a deal and to undermine the state department official leading the negotiations, Christopher Hill,the assistant secretary of state for Asia.

But US officials, as well as analysts, discounted this, saying the neo-conservatives had been discredited and that pragmatists such as the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, who favours a deal with North Korea, remained in the ascendancy.

Members of Congress have been pressing for months for the Bush administration to brief them on the Israeli strike and on the details of the North Korean negotiations.

A Democratic congressman, Gary Ackerman, questioned why the Bush administration was releasing the video now, describing it as bizarre behaviour. "This is the selective control of information that led us to the war in Iraq," he said.

In tandem with briefing Congress, US officials also briefed the IAEA IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency.  at its headquarters in Vienna. No IAEA inspectors have been allowed to visit the Syrian site since the bombing. John Rood, under-secretary of state for arms control, called the IAEA chief, Mohamed elBaradei, this morning.

In a separate diplomatic development, the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, confirmed that Turkey had been acting as a mediator to try to reach an agreement between Israel and Syria on a peace deal. The two countries have been theoretically at war since 1967.
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Date:Apr 24, 2008
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