North Korea Suspected of Nuclear Trade to Syria

September 21, 2007 05:40 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Israel still declines to identify the target of a Sept. 6 air force strike on Syrian territory; unofficial statements confirm that the target was nuclear supplies originating in North Korea.

30-Second Summary

On Sept. 6, Israeli planes attacked a location in the north of Syria, near the border with Turkey.

Six days later, Syria made an official complaint to the United Nations, describing the incursion as a “flagrant defiance of international law.”

Syria’s tardiness in voicing its displeasure and its refusal to identify the target matched the reluctance of other nations to discuss the incident. The U.S. government did not verify that the strike took place for five days. The Israeli government has yet to issue any statement at all on the event.

The reticence of these nations has been a catalyst for media speculation.

The simplest theory offered in the press is that the planes hit a weapons shipment intended for Hezbollah in Lebanon. An unnamed U.S. official allegedly confirmed that theory for The Jerusalem Post.

A more worrying hypothesis, and one gaining credibility, is that the Israeli planes struck against nuclear technology that came from North Korea. The New York Times has reported that American officials are assessing “Israel’s private claims that what their jets struck was tied to nuclear weapons development.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton surmised in The Wall Street Journal in August that there might exist a nuclear link between North Korea and Syria.

In a more recent article in the same publication, Bolton argues that such a trade in nuclear technology reduces recent diplomatic advances between the United States and the North “almost to insignificance.”

Headline Links: Syria, the United Nations, and Hezbollah

Reactions: Syria's alleged nuclear ties to Korea

Background: The initial reporting of the raid

Opinion: A pre-emptive strike or a dry run?

History: Israel air strikes on Iraq and Syria

June 7, 1981—Isreal strikes Iraqi reactor

Israeli planes bombed a French-built Iraqi nuclear facility just outside of Baghdad. Israel claimed that Iraq intended to use the reactor, ostensibly created to supply energy, to produce nuclear weapons.

Unconfirmed claims that the recent raid on Syria was targeted at nuclear technology originating in North Korea have stirred memories of that 1981 attack on Iraq.
October 5, 2003—The last Israeli air strike on Syria

In '03, Israeli planes hit what Israel claimed was a training camp for terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad.

Israel was very open about its aims and motivation in the ’03 incident, which makes a marked contrast with the silence that has followed the recent incursion into Syrian air space.

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