Feb 19 2008
Some news broke yesterday that did not seem to cause the ripple of concern it should have. It follows the news that the assassinated Hezbollah terrorist was in meetings with Syrian, Iranian and Islamic Jihad representatives to plan for attacks on neighboring Arab countries – one of which could easily be Iraq and US forces there. The news that created so little discussion was the fact that South Korean sources had confirmed the fact that the facility Israel destroyed a few months back in Syria was indeed a nuclear plant being built with the help of North Korea:
North Korea helped Syria build an underground nuclear reactor in the Middle East country, a South Korean news report said Monday.
“The U.S. government has circumstantial (evidence) that the North provided technology assistance to build an underground reactor in Syria,” South Korea’s Hankook Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified diplomatic channel.
My bet is that unidentified channel leads through the South Korean government. More here on the story. But that is about all I have seen on this news. If true we have a problem I described at the time where Iran and Syria and North Korea could be performing a head fake. With all eyes on Iran and their ‘civilian’ nuclear program it seems the weapon’s program – supposedly abandoned by Iran in 2003 – may have simply been moved to Syria. One group working on the fuel (Iran) and another on the weapon design (the easier part, Syria).
To people who do not understand how nuclear weapons work it might seem backwards to say the weapon is easy once you have the nuclear material for the bomb – but the mechanisms and designs to trigger a mass of nuclear material is actually quite straightforward after the basic approach was worked out during WW II. But don’t take my word for it. David Kay, who is a UN Nuclear Inspector who searched Iraq, discusses this fact in a recent interview regarding the infamous NIE that came out about Iran’s nuclear program last fall:
There was a footnote to it that a lot of people missed if they were reading just the press reports of it. It turns out what they call a â€œnuclear weapons programâ€ is just the design work on the actual warhead itself. Actually, the U.S. National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell testified this week that the weapons design work, particularly for an early- generation weapon, is the least important part of a nuclear-weapons program. Whatâ€™s important is the fissile material and in the case of Tehran, the enriched uranium. Thatâ€™s the real core of a nuclear-weapons program. And thereâ€™s no doubt that activity continues.
It also may not be a big challenge to build the nuclear trigger if rumors are true that Bill Clinton’s bungling administration actually gave Iran plans to build the trigger – which means they have the pieces they just need to see if they can design a version that flies on a missile.
An alliance of Syria, Iran and North Korea working together to arm the Middle East with nuclear weapons (and area fond of ‘martyring’ its people to prove a political point) would demonstrate an alliance as dangerous as the Nazi-Italian-Japanese Axis of the 1930’s and 1940’s, which gave us WW II. To try and obtain those kinds of weapons in a coordinated inter-state manner like the one I described would be a very serious threat to the world. And it seems the region knows it is a threat:
Syria is facing turbulent times in its relations with the outside world and its place in a region where rival powers have been competing for power and influence.
It is technically in a permanent state of war with one of its neighbours and has seen wars rage in two of its other neighbours lately.
Its closest ally is often threatened with war over its nuclear programme and its relations with the Arab world’s heavyweights have been far from cordial.
Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia look at Syria’s relations with Iran with deep concern, and their leaders have at times spoken publicly about it. This has even been reflected in news media affiliated with the governments of the trio, which have harshly criticised, and at times attacked, the Syrian government and its top officials.
Given al-Qaeda’s endless blood lust and willingness to massacre Muslims it would unnerve anyone to contemplate these brutal savages looking to martyr themselves armed with nukes of any variety. What I fear is how the world will test the next President and Congress – which seems to regular right of passage for each of our elections. For the Democrat Congress we saw the bloodshed in Iraq skyrocket so they would perform as al-Qaeda wanted and would run in full retreat. It was a test they failed and Bush won, because it is now al-Qaeda who is the enemy of Islam in Iraq, not its future. I am sure the next round of tests for the free world will be even more difficult to pass.