Friday, April 25, 2008

White House says Syria 'must come clean' about nuclear work

What exactly is going on in Syria?

Syria was front and center in Congressional hearings on Thursday over North Korea's nuclear program.

For the big picture you have to step back about seven months to last September when Israel launched a surprise airstrike on a site deep within Syria. What was surprising aside from the raid itself was how little it was discussed. Israel claimed it was a nuclear facility that was within weeks of becoming operational, Syria said it was an abandoned military base, but neither side said much else and the story quickly faded from the headlines.

In Thursday's hearing though White House officials offered evidence that the site was indeed a nuclear reactor with help from the North Koreans. The design of the destroyed reactor is said to be nearly identical to North Korea's Yongbyon plant - the center of their nuclear weapons program. US intelligence officials who spoke with the press said that they were pretty sure that North Korea had in fact helped build the Syrian site, but did not have the same level of confidence that the reactor would be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Syria continues to deny that the site was meant to produce nuclear weapons.
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