Israeli air raid raises fears of nuclear-armed Syria

Sunday, September 16, 2007 |  by Staff Writer  

A number of media reports citing unnamed Israeli and American officials and experts indicate that an alleged Israeli air force raid deep inside Syria 10 days ago targeted nuclear technology transferred from North Korea to Israel's northern neighbor.

Israel's Yediot Ahronot and Britain's The Observer both reported on Sunday that as many as eight Israeli fighter jets took part in the raid, penetrating all the way to Syria's eastern border before attacking what officials fear is a facility to extract uranium. In addition to the attacking aircraft, both newspapers reported that an electronic intelligence gathering plane flew thousands of feet above the fighters collecting additional data on the target.

The Washington Post reported that the strike came just three days after a North Korean ship purportedly carrying cement docked in Syria. An expert cited in the report said that both Israel and the US were convinced the shipment contained sensitive nuclear equipment that would have enabled Syria to launch a nuclear arms program.

Syrian officials meanwhile vehemently denied that there are any nuclear facilities anywhere in their country.

But former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton told The Jerusalem Post that “simple logic” would draw the conclusion that both Iran and North Korea would look to an ally not under suspicion of nuclear activity in order to outsource the more conspicuous elements of their own nuclear arms programs.

Bolton said he believes that Syria is providing facilities for uranium enrichment to both Iran and North Korea, both of which are under intense UN scrutiny. He also pointed out that for some reason North Korea was among the nations that most vigorously condemned Israel's alleged air raid in Syria.

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