U.S. Nuke guy: North Korea and Syria are up to no good; Update: New details on the Israeli bombing raid

posted at 7:02 am on September 15, 2007 by see-dubya

Intriguing. That Israeli airstrike is looking more and more like a bit of pre-emptive nuclear inventory control:

Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal told the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on Thursday that the accusations of North Korean nuclear help were a “new American spin to cover up” for Israel.

[State Dep't Non-Proliferation Guy Andrew] Semmel, who is in Italy for a meeting Saturday on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, said Syria was certainly on the U.S. “watch list.”

“There are indicators that they do have something going on there,” he said. “We do know that there are a number of foreign technicians that have been in Syria. We do know that there may have been contact between Syria and some secret suppliers for nuclear equipment. Whether anything transpired remains to be seen.”

“So good foreign policy, good national security policy, would suggest that we pay very close attention to that,” he said. “We’re watching very closely. Obviously, the Israelis were watching very closely.”

Asked if the suppliers could have been North Koreans, he said: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that. Just as there are a lot of North Koreans in Iraq and Iran.”

Asked if the so-called Khan network, which supplied nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, could have been involved, he said he “wouldn’t exclude” it.

This doesn’t get talked about very much, but it’s not the first time we’ve heard of this little courtship. From 2004:

A North Korean missile shipment to Syria was halted when a train collision in that Asian country destroyed the missile cargo and killed about a dozen Syrian technicians.

U.S. officials confirmed a report in a Japanese daily newspaper that a train explosion on April 22 killed about a dozen Syrian technicians near the Ryongchon province in North Korea. The officials said the technicians were accompanying a train car full of missile components and other equipment from a facility near the Chinese border to a North Korea port.

A U.S. official said North Korean train cargo was also believed to have contained tools for the production of ballistic missiles. North Korea has sold Syria the extended-range Scud C and Scud D missiles, according to reports by Middle East Newsline.

Exit question: If the A.Q. Khan network is still operating, what’s old A.Q. Khan himself up to these days, besides being elected President of Pakistan in mock polls?

Update (AP): More details on the mystery raid from WaPo. Note the unusual level of operational secrecy.

[A] prominent U.S. expert on the Middle East, who has interviewed Israeli participants in a mysterious raid over Syria last week, reported that the attack appears to have been linked to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying material from North Korea labeled as cement.

The expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid compromising his sources, said the target of the attack appears to have been a northern Syrian facility that was labeled an agricultural research center on the Euphrates River, close to the Turkish border. Israel has kept a close eye on the facility, believing that Syria was using it to extract uranium from phosphates.

The expert said it is not clear what the ship was carrying, but the emerging consensus in Israel was that it delivered nuclear equipment. The ship arrived Sept. 3 in the Syrian port of Tartus; the attack occurred Sept. 6 under such strict operational security that the pilots flying air cover for the attack aircraft did not know details of the mission. The pilots who conducted the attack were briefed only after they were in the air, he said

Adding to the mystery, Syria has made only muted protests about the raid, and North Korea, which rarely comments on international matters, swiftly condemned it.


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Khan..?? I’m sure he’s in the back of a Mexican truck crossing our southern border.

Legions on September 15, 2007 at 8:15 AM

Exit question: If the A.Q. Khan network is still operating, what’s old A.Q. Khan himself up to these days,

Fine tuning his wrath for the day he is released to spread his message of terror.

csdeven on September 15, 2007 at 8:31 AM

This story is getting more and more Hollyweird….

Now Syria is claiming there was no bombing and that the story is all lies…..
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1189411402111&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

The confusing part now is that it appears there were TWO strikes. One on a uranium processing facility(the strike we all first heard of) and another on a North Korean boat delivering missle or nuke technology.

Limerick on September 15, 2007 at 8:34 AM

csdeven- from another thread:

“Pakistani nuclear arms merchant A.Q. Khan has recently been released from even house arrest…” ( NO link provided)

eeyore on September 15, 2007 at 1:37 AM

JiangxiDad on September 15, 2007 at 9:04 AM

The world owes Israel a great big Thank You … what they’ll get instead is a great big F*ck You.

I remember that train explosion, we thought at the time that it was an attempt on Kim’s life. Perhaps it was the Mossad taking out Syria-bound missiles? If so, nice work gentlemen, keep it up. If not, maybe it was an accident by some commie or hezbo-jihadist moron, if so, nice work gentlemen, keep it up.

Here’s my exit question: Does ‘World Opinion’ prefer conventional war with Iran and Syria *now* or nuclear war with Iran and Syria *later*?

Tony737 on September 15, 2007 at 10:09 AM

Haaretz
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/903398.html

Bolton chimes in and more details about target.

Limerick on September 15, 2007 at 10:10 AM

Tony737 on September 15, 2007 at 10:09 AM

“World Opinion” prefers to cower in hiding and engage in much thumb-sucking while waiting for the magical diplomacy fairies to make it all better.

When the threat has been taken care of by the adults, they will resurface, put crayon to paper, and craft strong condemnations against the big US and Israeli meanies.

reaganaut on September 15, 2007 at 10:29 AM

Seems Israel will have to rescue our tired butts… one more time.

petefrt on September 15, 2007 at 10:52 AM

Seems Israel will have to rescue our tired butts… one more time.

petefrt on September 15, 2007 at 10:52 AM

More like our ally, Israel, will help us in Syria and elsewhere, just as we help Israel by being in Iraq, and by confronting Iran. They don’t do our job, and we don’t do theirs. Definition of true ally. We’ve just forgotten, because we are lacking in those kind of friends these days.

JiangxiDad on September 15, 2007 at 11:06 AM

Syria is NOT SHOWING the press the bombing site? why? you know how they like to hold up what ever pathetic person was bombed. But they DON’T want anyone to see this site.

Win Win Win on September 15, 2007 at 11:49 AM

Syria is NOT SHOWING the press the bombing site? why? you know how they like to hold up what ever pathetic person was bombed. But they DON’T want anyone to see this site.

Win Win Win on September 15, 2007 at 11:49 AM

This was found. It’s faint, but seems to be some kind of a code, printed on a clothing label.

-enn– Ku—i–

JiangxiDad on September 15, 2007 at 12:08 PM

Something that struck me as rather interesting is that Israel was able to overfly Turkish airspace unopposed and Turkey also shares a border with Iran. Hmmm.

bdfaith on September 15, 2007 at 12:11 PM

bdfaith-
There was a good thread here about that yesterday.

JiangxiDad on September 15, 2007 at 12:16 PM

Picture caption correction: An ounce of prevention is worth a kiloton of cure.

Hollowpoint on September 15, 2007 at 12:26 PM

Wait. If NK is helping in Iran; do we really have to worry about Iran’s nuclear ability? NK couldn’t get its own nuke test to work properly, why could it get Iran’s?

lorien1973 on September 15, 2007 at 12:37 PM

“Pakistani nuclear arms merchant A.Q. Khan has recently been released from even house arrest…” ( NO link provided)
eeyore on September 15, 2007 at 1:37 AM
JiangxiDad on September 15, 2007 at 9:04 AM

This link was there somewhere. See “Release from house arrest.”

eeyore on September 15, 2007 at 12:52 PM

So we’re giving bread to North Korea so they can help Iran? Hmm…

Mojave Mark on September 15, 2007 at 10:30 PM

I may be a bit off my rocker here, but who the hell IMPORTS “cement” in this day and age? It’s not like it’s a closeley held state or trade secret how to make it in various forms. If it’s extremely common around the world as an import item from NK, I’ll extract my foot from my mouth and at least eat my sock, but come on…

“Cement” from the Norks…you better believe it gets my antennae twitching. Why would a failing/starving nation expend the resources to ship CEMENT of all things thousands of miles when it would be better served by using it at home to build things like rice storage facilities? Shipping cement to Syria from NK cannot possibly be cost effective or very profitable when they have a neighbor a couple miles to the south that would probably consume all they could provide year after year…

Something was weird about that ship.

American_Jihadist on September 15, 2007 at 10:49 PM

I thought A. Q. Khan was bundling campaign contributions for Hillary…

trigon on September 16, 2007 at 1:06 PM