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Briefings to focus on possible North Korea-Syria nuclear link

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Monique Faulkner
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« on: April 24, 2008, 11:20:55 am »

Briefings to focus on possible North Korea-Syria nuclear link
Story Highlights
NEW: No evidence North Korea was supplying nuclear fuel, institute says

Facility bombed by Israel closely resembled Yongbyon reactor, institute says

Source: Officials to say North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear facility

Syrian ambassador calls nuclear accusations "absurd and preposterous"

Next Article in Politics



From Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

     
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Members of Congress will learn during closed-door briefings Thursday about North Korea's possible role in building a suspected nuclear facility in Syria, according to a source familiar with internal administration discussions.




Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights look toward Syria on September 7, 2007, a day after an Israeli airstrike.

 U.S. intelligence officials will demonstrate that North Korea was helping Syria build the facility that Israeli warplanes bombed last year, the source said.

The United States and Israel have refused to comment on the target of September airstrike.

Some members of Congress have demanded to know what information the administration has about the incident.

Thursday's briefings to intelligence, foreign relations and armed services committees in both chambers of Congress are intended to show that the building hit was a North Korean-designed reactor being built with assistance from Pyongyang, the source said.

It is less clear whether North Korea had provided or was about to provide essential fuel components to Syria, according to the source.

The evidence includes pre-attack images taken inside the reactor building, which closely resembles the one at the Yongbyon nuclear center in North Korea, according to David Albright and Paul Brannan of the Institute for Science and International Security.

It is believed that the video was shot by Israeli intelligence or a mole for the Israelis, the source close to the administration said.

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Takes time to prove N. Korean claims, says Rice
However, there was no evidence that North Korea was supplying fuel for the reactor, Albright and Brannon said in a statement on the ISIS Web site.

"This type of reactor requires a large supply of uranium fuel," the statement read. "The lack of any identified source of this fuel raises questions about when the reactor could have operated, despite evidence that it was nearing completion at the time of the attack."

Syria's ambassador to the United States criticized the planned briefings.

"This will be a ridiculous and pathetic charade," Imad Moustafa told CNN, adding that Syria has never had any nuclear project.

"All the accusations are absurd and preposterous," he said.

Moustafa told CNN the briefing was motivated by a constituency that is angry with the Bush administration about the nuclear negotiations the United States is holding with North Korea and that is targeting Syria to help make its case.

"This is exactly the same story as Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction," he said. "There is a proven record of this administration to fabricate lies."

The State Department and the Pentagon have said they are not involved in Thursday's congressional briefings. A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.

The briefings could complicate the six-party talks at which the United States and other major world powers are trying to get North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. Pyongyang has resisted disclosing its proliferation activities.

The United States has softened its demand that North Korea publicly admit having a program to develop highly enriched uranium and to having provided Syria with nuclear technology, key questions that have left the negotiations stalled for months.

Officials said the United States concluded that it is more important to get a handle on the program than to have North Korea "confess" past nuclear sins.

The original agreement in the six-party talks did not deal with proliferation, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week that it was important to do so "in light of some recent concerns about North Korean activities in proliferation."

"Syria is most certainly an issue in proliferation," she said, adding, "We have several nonproliferation questions on the table about North Korea."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "The negotiations on the six-party talks and all the actions the parties take will be judged on their own merits."

He added that President Bush and Rice would make decisions based on Washington's "compelling interest" to rid North Korea of its nuclear program.

In the initial days after the September 6 attack on the Syrian facility, fewer than two dozen people in the U.S. government were briefed on the intelligence surrounding the strike, and all were ordered to keep the information secret, according to a Pentagon official who asked not to be named.

Satellite images taken after the attack show there was little left of the facility. A satellite photograph of the area taken in January seemed to indicate new construction on the site.

The briefing notice to House members describes Thursday afternoon's topic as regarding the Middle East, a congressional source said.

The media also will be briefed on the intelligence.

When Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked Wednesday when the American public would be told about allegations of North Korea's nuclear assistance to Syria, he replied: "Soon."

Since the strike, questions have arisen as to why the Israelis took the action and whether the United States supported the mission.

Syrian officials said the bombing was an Israeli raid on a building they described as an empty military warehouse.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in October that the agency had "no information about any undeclared nuclear facility in Syria and no information about ... reports" regarding an alleged facility. E-mail to a friend

CNN's Elise Labott, Deirdre Walsh, Pam Benson, Jamie McIntyre and Adam Levine contributed to this report
Briefings to focus on possible North Korea-Syria nuclear linkStory Highlights
NEW: No evidence North Korea was supplying nuclear fuel, institute says

Facility bombed by Israel closely resembled Yongbyon reactor, institute says

Source: Officials to say North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear facility

Syrian ambassador calls nuclear accusations "absurd and preposterous"

Next Article in Politics



From Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

     
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Members of Congress will learn during closed-door briefings Thursday about North Korea's possible role in building a suspected nuclear facility in Syria, according to a source familiar with internal administration discussions.


Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights look toward Syria on September 7, 2007, a day after an Israeli airstrike.

 U.S. intelligence officials will demonstrate that North Korea was helping Syria build the facility that Israeli warplanes bombed last year, the source said.

The United States and Israel have refused to comment on the target of September airstrike.

Some members of Congress have demanded to know what information the administration has about the incident.

Thursday's briefings to intelligence, foreign relations and armed services committees in both chambers of Congress are intended to show that the building hit was a North Korean-designed reactor being built with assistance from Pyongyang, the source said.

It is less clear whether North Korea had provided or was about to provide essential fuel components to Syria, according to the source.

The evidence includes pre-attack images taken inside the reactor building, which closely resembles the one at the Yongbyon nuclear center in North Korea, according to David Albright and Paul Brannan of the Institute for Science and International Security.

It is believed that the video was shot by Israeli intelligence or a mole for the Israelis, the source close to the administration said.

Don't Miss
Presidents say North Korea issue 'not impossible'
Takes time to prove N. Korean claims, says Rice
However, there was no evidence that North Korea was supplying fuel for the reactor, Albright and Brannon said in a statement on the ISIS Web site.

"This type of reactor requires a large supply of uranium fuel," the statement read. "The lack of any identified source of this fuel raises questions about when the reactor could have operated, despite evidence that it was nearing completion at the time of the attack."

Syria's ambassador to the United States criticized the planned briefings.

"This will be a ridiculous and pathetic charade," Imad Moustafa told CNN, adding that Syria has never had any nuclear project.

"All the accusations are absurd and preposterous," he said.

Moustafa told CNN the briefing was motivated by a constituency that is angry with the Bush administration about the nuclear negotiations the United States is holding with North Korea and that is targeting Syria to help make its case.

"This is exactly the same story as Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction," he said. "There is a proven record of this administration to fabricate lies."

The State Department and the Pentagon have said they are not involved in Thursday's congressional briefings. A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.

The briefings could complicate the six-party talks at which the United States and other major world powers are trying to get North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. Pyongyang has resisted disclosing its proliferation activities.

The United States has softened its demand that North Korea publicly admit having a program to develop highly enriched uranium and to having provided Syria with nuclear technology, key questions that have left the negotiations stalled for months.

Officials said the United States concluded that it is more important to get a handle on the program than to have North Korea "confess" past nuclear sins.

The original agreement in the six-party talks did not deal with proliferation, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week that it was important to do so "in light of some recent concerns about North Korean activities in proliferation."

"Syria is most certainly an issue in proliferation," she said, adding, "We have several nonproliferation questions on the table about North Korea."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "The negotiations on the six-party talks and all the actions the parties take will be judged on their own merits."

He added that President Bush and Rice would make decisions based on Washington's "compelling interest" to rid North Korea of its nuclear program.

In the initial days after the September 6 attack on the Syrian facility, fewer than two dozen people in the U.S. government were briefed on the intelligence surrounding the strike, and all were ordered to keep the information secret, according to a Pentagon official who asked not to be named.

Satellite images taken after the attack show there was little left of the facility. A satellite photograph of the area taken in January seemed to indicate new construction on the site.

The briefing notice to House members describes Thursday afternoon's topic as regarding the Middle East, a congressional source said.

The media also will be briefed on the intelligence.

When Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked Wednesday when the American public would be told about allegations of North Korea's nuclear assistance to Syria, he replied: "Soon."

Since the strike, questions have arisen as to why the Israelis took the action and whether the United States supported the mission.

Syrian officials said the bombing was an Israeli raid on a building they described as an empty military warehouse.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in October that the agency had "no information about any undeclared nuclear facility in Syria and no information about ... reports" regarding an alleged facility. E-mail to a friend

CNN's Elise Labott, Deirdre Walsh, Pam Benson, Jamie McIntyre and Adam Levine contributed to this report
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