Thursday, April 24, 2008

Satellite Images of the North Korea-Syria Nuclear Facility

North Korea-Syria Nuclear Plant

The Los Angeles Times reports on the satellite evdidence of Syria's North Korean-backed nuclear facility that was destroyed by Israeli bombers last September:

U.S. intelligence officials showed satellite images, classified photos and other evidence to members of Congress today in an unusual presentation intended to advance the American case that North Korea was helping Syria build a nuclear reactor before the facility was destroyed by Israeli warplanes last year.

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and senior spy officials spent hours briefing key committees on Capitol Hill, publicly releasing much of the evidence later in the afternoon.

In detailing the alleged North Korean-Syrian cooperation and the destruction of the plant, the Bush administration broke a long silence on the issue, finally confirming the Israeli attack but denying U.S. involvement in its planning or execution.

As the briefings began, the White House in a statement strongly condemned both North Korea and Syria for their alleged roles in the project. Syria responded by denouncing "false allegations that the current United States administration continually launches against Syria."

The evidence includes photos of Asian workers at a facility in a remote area of Syria, where intelligence agencies had for years tracked construction of a plant they said bore remarkable similarities to a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, North Korea.

"There are images from within the facility," said a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the material. "But the key here is not that image, but the design features and components similarities between this facility and Yongbyon. And the fact that there has been for about a decade now a relationship in the nuclear sphere between Syria and North Korea."

The closed-door presentations on Capitol Hill created the exceedingly unusual spectacle of American spy agencies going public with elements of their otherwise classified case against North Korea, which the U.S. accuses of spreading nuclear weapons technology around the globe.

Administration officials said they were releasing the information to buttress the U.S. bargaining position in talks with North Korea that are aimed at removing nuclear weapons under the communist nation's control.
See, also the photo slide-show, "Suspected Syrian Nuclear Facility."