Sunday, October 28, 2007

Clear Evidence Implicates Assad Personally in North Korean Nuclear Deal


Wow! First the bombing "didn't happen," then it happened but it was an "international incident," and now the bombing not only happened (against a nuclear facility), but Korea and Assad were in collusion!

Amazing how things things develop isn't it?

Now, what is the next step? Do we cut off their water for 15 minutes a day?


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
October 27, 2007, 11:24 PM (GMT+02:00)

President Bashar Assad was personally involved in Damascus’ nuclear deal with Pyongyang. Documentary proofs of this, obtained from the presidential bureau and signed by Assad in person, are now in the hands of the US and Israeli intelligence services, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report. In one, Assad hands down a specific order in his own handwriting that North Korea not be charged for Syrian goods, including an annual shipment of 100,000 tons of Durham wheat for five years worth a total of $120 million. This is the equivalent of the value of the reactor for producing plutonium up to its most radioactive stage, which North Korea promised Syria.

A high-ranking Western intelligence source speaking to DEBKAfile described the evidence against Assad in US and Israeli hands as solid and much closer to a smoking gun than the West has turned up against Iran’s nuclear program.

The following sequence of events unfolds from the garnered documents:

Damascus and Pyongyang settled between them that the nuclear transaction would be masked as a joint venture to build a cement factory in northern Syria; meanwhile, North Korea would sell Syria cement for its development projects.

According to DEBKAfile’s sources, North Korean freighters, which began putting in at Syria’s Latakia and Tartus ports in January 2007, unloaded cargoes of cement in which nuclear reactor components and materials were concealed.

The North Korean traffic at these ports and the Durham wheat transaction attracted the attention of US and Israeli secret services.

During the next eight months – up until the Israeli attack on Syria’s North Korean installation - wheat prices shot up on international markets. Indeed the price of Durham wheat doubled. Had this been a normal commercial transaction, Syria would have claimed additional North Korean goods in compensation. In fact, when import-export officials in Damascus, who knew nothing of the nuclear reactor tradeoff, pointed Assad’s office to the price fluctuations on the wheat market, they were told that the contracts signed by the president in person must go through without changes.

When later, the Syrian wheat crop fell short of expectations, Syrian officials were again told to fill the North Korean orders in full.

On Sept. 3, the North Korean “cement ship” Al Hamed docked at Tartus. The freight it unloaded was trucked directly to the “cement factory” at Al Tibnah in the Syrian Desert, east of the Euphrates River. The Israeli attack took place three days later.

Last Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Syrian ambassador to Washington Imad Mustapha was invited to address the prestigious Institute on Religion and Public Policy. In answer to a question, he acknowledged, “Syria gives North Korea wheat, oil and other products.”

He declined to disclose what Syria got in return. When pressed on this point, Mustapha said in exasperation: “Stuff. We get stuff.”

Thursday, Oct. 25, a number of leading American media simultaneously ran satellite images of a nuclear installation standing at Al Tibnah in August 2007 and the same site in the second half of September, after it had been cleared of the debris left by the Israeli attack.

This time, Damascus found nothing to say – although Syrian officials had commented on former leaks related to the episode. DEBKAfile’s Syrian sources report that this and other symptoms indicate that Assad finds himself in a tight corner. He is at a loss to explain to the Syrian public and, worse, to most of his colleagues in the political and military leadership who were kept ignorant of the nuclear transaction with North Korea, how he came to entangle the country in this ill-fated adventure.

In the view of DEBKAfile’s Western intelligence source, the Syrian president’s internal and international plight is more acute than that of the Iranian regime or Saddam Hussein in the days leading up to the 2003 US invasion. No incontrovertible proof has so far been shown to demonstrate that Iran has attained the capacity to produce nuclear or radioactive weapons, any more than the Iraqi ruler was positively shown to have weapons of mass destruction. Assad’s case is more unfortunate; it is now supported by solid evidence in American and Israeli hands.

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