US shows proof of North Korea-Syria n-cooperation

April 25th, 2008 - 7:05 am ICT by admin  

Washington, April 24 (DPA) US intelligence officials were on Capitol Hill Thursday to present lawmakers with evidence that North Korea assisted Syria in the construction of the nuclear reactor destroyed by the Israeli military in September, a US official said. The members of the Congress were to see evidence “that outlines a very compelling case to show that there was in fact a Syrian effort with North Korean assistance to build a covert nuclear reactor”, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The meetings between six congressional Senate and House committees and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials come as the US and four other countries in the six-nation negotiations with North Korea await a declaration from Pyongyang detailing all of its nuclear activities, including proliferation.

The Bush administration wants North Korea to acknowledge the US concerns about the Syria connection in the declaration. Washington believes North Korea failed to meet a December deadline to provide full disclosure and the issue has blocked further progress in the six-nation talks to implement the February 2007 disarmament agreement with Pyongyang.

North Korea says it provided the declaration in November, but the US believed it was incomplete because it did not address assistance to Syria or the US suspicions that North Korea was enriching uranium in addition to the plutonium-based weapons programme.

The US official said among the evidence was a video of the Syrian facility known as al-Kibar, but would not provide details about the footage. The Washington Post reported the video shows North Koreans inside the facility.

Israeli warplanes bombed the suspected reactor site Sep 6 and the Syrians quickly razed the facility. The US has not officially confirmed the facility was designed to construct a nuclear reactor.

The US official said the site was not yet operational nor was the fuel for the reactor fully loaded, but said “there were clear indications that that would happen at some point”.

The Washington Post reported the video was obtained by Israel short before the strike and that it showed a facility similar to the North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which is being disabled under the agreement with Pyongyang.

The Bush administration has said that a verifiable declaration from North Korea would prompt the United States to begin removing Pyongyang from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and ease sanctions.

Syria has denied the facility was intended to produce nuclear weapons and challenged the veracity of US intelligence. Syria’s ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, denounced the congressional presentations.

“If they show a video, remember that the US went to the UN Security Council and displayed evidence and images about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” he told the Washington Post. “I hope the American people will not be as gullible this time around.”

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