Israel: North Korea Helped Syria Build Nuclear Plant

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[from The Daily Telegraph]

WASHINGTON — Israel‘s airstrike on Syria last month was directed at a nuclear reactor, a report said yesterday [October 14, 2007–TNC].

Officials said the reactor, which was in the early stages of development, was being modeled on one in North Korea.

Israeli intelligence officials have said they believed North Korea, which detonated its first nuclear device last year, was supplying nuclear expertise and materials to Syria.

It has been claimed North Korean advisors were killed in the attack, which obliterated its target.

The strike on the location in northeastern Syria on September 6 has been subject to an official news blackout by both Tel Aviv and Washington, for fear of raising tensions in the Middle East. But speculation on the nature of the target has been rife, with some defense experts and insiders saying the Syrians, who already have chemical weapons, were on the verge of producing plutonium for a nuclear weapon. The report in yesterday’s New York Times gives the clearest picture yet of the daring raid, which was disclosed only after the Syrians complained about a violation of its airspace by Israel.

American officials said the Syrian reactor was identified earlier this year in satellite photographs. It appeared far further from completion than an Iraqi reactor the Israelis destroyed in 1981, and it would have been years away from producing weapons-grade plutonium.

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