It took more than a week before
news reached the rest of the world. On
launched an aerial raid on a site within Syria. This site at Dayr
az-Zawr, in the north of the country, had been under surveillance
for some time.
Washington knew that
there were North Koreans at the site, according to Andrew Semmel of
the U.S. State Department. He said: "There are North Korean people
there. There’s no question about that." He claimed that the network
set up by
Abdul Qadeer Khan could
A. Q. Khan, who developed
nuclear capability using stolen and smuggled material, admitted in
February 2004 that he had sold nuclear information and technology to
president, Pervez Musharraf, publicly forgave Khan for subjecting
the world to another nuclear arms race. One of the fruits of Khan's
greed was the detonation of a small nuclear bomb by
North Korea on
October 9, 2006.
in conjunction with
known to have been attempting to develop Scud missiles with a
greater range than their maximum of 300 miles. A recent report from
Jane's Defense Weekly
claimed that in late
July this year in
Aleppo, a Syrian military
team, accompanied by Iranian advisers, was attempting to attach a
chemical warhead to a Scud when its fuel ignited. This caused a
chemical explosion, containing VX, Sarin and mustard gas. VX or
S-2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl O-ethyl methylphosphonothioate is a
nerve agent, developed in Britain in
1952, and Sarin or
O-Isopropyl methylphosphonofluoridate was developed for the Nazis in
1938. Sarin has a short
shelf-life, but VX lasts considerably longer, and can be made
adhesive for maximum effect. Sarin, VX and mustard gas were among
substances listed as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by the U.N.'s
1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.
The Scud nerve gas explosion was
reported in the Syrian press as taking place on July 26th,
claiming the lives of 15 Syrian military personnel and injuring 50
others, though no mention was made of the "dozens" of Iranian
advisers who were also killed in the blast.
had technically assisted in increasing the range of existing Scuds.
involved in developing WMDs close to its border, with the assistance
Iran and possibly
the developments taking place at Dayr az-Zawr which appeared to
involve nuclear plans were a serious cause for alarm.
Before an air strike would be
Washington, there had to be proof
presence in Dayr az-Zawr was connected to nuclear materials. Three
days before the raid, an Israeli
commando raid by the
Sayeret Matkal unit, under orders from Ehud Barak, took place.
The commandos took material from the site, and this was brought back
analysis. Israeli analysts confirmed that the material came from
North Korea, and
approval for the air strike by F151s from the 69th Squadron.
The Sayeret Matkal raid on Dayr
az-Zawr, which gathered what is now presumed to be nuclear material,
was a "fabrication", stated
information minister. On Monday, in Arabic language news source al-Sharq
al-Awsat, he was quoted as saying: "These reports are not true. This
is a baseless fabrication like the ones that have been spread
In addition to denying that the raids took place, he
would respond "when the time is right."
has not denied that the September 6th raid against Dayr
az-Zawr took place, and a Syrian official told
Reuters on Monday
September 24th that: "After this raid, you can forget
about peace. It is no secret that our forces have been on alert for
some time, but
Syria will not
be the first to start a war." In what appeared to be an implicit
Syria's new ties
another official said: "Arab states have not exactly rallied in our
support. As for peace, the international picture could start
changing late next year with a new administration in
officially said that
had bombed an "empty area."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Alexander Sultanov has apparently advised
Syria not to
than by sending a letter of protest.
a delegation of Syrian diplomats had a meeting in
Pyongyang, capital of
This delegation, led by Saaeed Eleia Dawood, a leading figure in the
Ba'athist party, was met by the head of
legislature, Kim Yong-nam. In this "friendly talk," the
strengthening ties between
were praised. It appears that Kim Jong-Il,
"Dear Leader," did not meet with the Syrian delegation.
a South Korean news report claimed that North Korea has denounced
the U.S. for defending the Israeli air strike.Yonhap news agency
quoted from North Korea's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun,
which claimed: "Israeli warplanes' intrusion into the territorial
airspace of Syria and bomb-dropping are an outright violation of
Syria's sovereignty and a grave crime that destroys regional peace
and security," and stated that the U.S. had supported this "brazen
an editorial in Rodong
Sinmun claimed that the
has “long actively promoted and cooperated with the Israeli nuclear
armament plan”. Additionally, the commentary blamed the
the "right" to develop nuclear technology for "peaceful" means. The
editorial stated that the
"dispatched nuclear experts to
and transferred highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient for
nuclear weapons, to them."
Reports that first appeared in
Friday's Washington Post claimed that
before the air strike of September 6th. Neither George W.
Bush nor Israeli officials have agreed to talk about the events
preceding the air strike.
officially denied that it has received nuclear assistance from
North Korea, and
has denied cooperation. The missile development by
North Korea on
has been in operation since 1995 under a "barter system." Farm
products and computers are sent to
which in turn trains Syrian engineers and provides missiles, which
have been "streamlined" by North Korean technicians.
The tension in the region has had
its effects. On
Saturday, September 22nd,
a Syrian fighter jet which was being monitored disappeared from
radar view, causing alarm. It later turned out that the plane had
crashed on Syrian territory. On
Thursday there had been
another alarm in the Golan Heights, along the border with
"Suspicious activity" had been reported, but this was a false alarm,
caused by migrating birds. On Sunday, an
abandoned Israeli car at
Golan Heights again caused concern.
It was feared that the vehicle's four occupants had been kidnapped
(in the manner of the events in the summer of 2006 that led to
conflict). The four individuals were soon located – they had gone
hiking. The Golan Heights were captured by
Israel in the
six-day War of 1967.
envoy, Christopher Hill, will be in
Thursday this week, to
attend six-nation talks, where he is expected to continue arguments
for the "denuclearization" of
These talks will involve
North Korea and
In July, the six nations met after
North Korea had shut down five "key" nuclear facilities, as part of
a deal brokered in February in which North Korea would receive
has officially promised to remove its nuclear programs. Earlier this
month, nuclear experts from the
met to discuss the disabling of the main nuclear facilities at
Yongbyon which are currently "shut down." The findings of these
experts will be presented to the summit on Thursday.
chief nuclear envoy, Kim Kye Gwan,
warned on Tuesday that
the peace talks on
"denuclearization" could fail if the six-country summit does not
reach clear consensus. He was speaking as he arrived at
Beijing ahead of the
conference. He also denied that
North Korea had
provided nuclear material to
said: "That matter is fabricated by lunatics. So you can ask those
lunatics to explain it."
involvement, along with
scientists developing Scud missile technology to be more deadly, the
administration is keen to have
peace talks between
and Palestinians, which will take place this fall. The
U.S. also hopes
that other Arab countries which have refused to have dealings with
Israel, such as
will also attend. Condoleezza Rice
said on Monday: "We hope
that those who come are really committed to helping the Israelis and
Palestinians find a way through. That means renouncing violence.
Working for a peaceful solution. Coming to this meeting also brings
with it certain responsibilities."
In a sign that
committed to the latest plans in the Palestinian peace process,
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
confirmed on Monday that
his country would not object to
other Arab states attending the international summit. He
additionally claimed that he believes that the tensions between
subside. Spokesman Mark Regev
stated: "Israel is
interested in as many Arab states attending this meeting as
possible, states that support peace, that support reconciliation,
that oppose terrorism."
Alon Liel, an Israeli analyst,
urges caution: "Syria
all the time said that it has one hand extended to peace and the
other one is preparing for war.
the second half, that
is preparing for war, and did not believe the peace option."
Official invites to the conference have still not been sent out.
may claim innocence over the Dayr az-Zawr incident. But it is in a
vulnerable position, which is why it agreed in February to running
down its nuclear plans in exchange for assistance. The nation has
been on a military footing since 1953 and the end of the Korean War.
South Korea has
thrived since then, while
Stalinist policies and mismanagement have led to mass starvations.
In the 1990s, 3 million people are said to have starved to death
during one such famine. While its people starved, the People's
Democratic Republic diverted funds, given to assist famine, into its
nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea is
still officially "at war" with the
Kim Jong-Il is reportedly severely
ill, suffering complications from diabetes, and unlike his father,
the "Great Leader" Kim il-Sun, in the years since 1994 when he took
power, he is not able to exert much charisma to his downtrodden
people. Abuses of human rights, which flourished under his
predecessor, have not diminished, and the labor camps established by
his father still exist. Financially,
cannot support itself and is in many ways a "failed state." Last
Times reported last year
that his regime has resorted to counterfeiting
U.S. currency and
exporting amphetamines to
Despite its claims to be complying
with the February deal to denuclearize, the recent incident in
to undermine the sincerity of its stated intentions. After pursuing
a policy of nuclear arms development for two decades, it has
produced just one nuclear bomb test. It is still a threat to
but it should not be given benefits of any doubts. The people of
should not be held hostage to the whims and ambitions of a
physically weak, comic-obsessed lunatic.
is in some ways a greater threat to international peace, linked as
it is to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in
Jonathan Strong pointed out in
Family Security Matters,
Syria has been
co-chair of the
International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). This body, under the
auspices of the U.N., has a role to prevent nuclear proliferation.
It patently failed to prevent
April 11, 2006, that it
had produced its first batch of highly enriched uranium.
ignored requests by the
U.N. Security Council to wind down its nuclear program, and
in a prime position within the IAEA, it appears that the foxes have
been put in charge of the hen house.
The full story of what was going on
at Dayr az-Zawr has not yet been revealed. But what is certain is
that diplomacy must be made to work to pressure
from exporting the products of its nuclear program. The alternative
is too dreadful to contemplate.