October 10, 2007
The Jerusalem Post

Cheney, Rice Divided Over Israeli Intel

Officials in the Bush administration are divided over the significance of intelligence provided by Israel that led to last month's strike inside Syria on a reported nuclear facility, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

According to the Times, at issue is whether intelligence presented by Israel months ago to the administration that Syria had begun work on a nuclear weapons program was conclusive enough to justify military action by Israel, and subsequently, a rethinking of American policy toward the two nations.

US Vice President Dick Cheney and other conservatives in the administration are portraying the Israeli intelligence as credible and argue that it should cause the US to reconsider its diplomatic overtures to Syria and North Korea.

By contrast, the Times reports, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her allies in the White House said they do not believe that the intelligence presented so far merits any change in the American diplomatic approach. . . .

Besides Rice, officials said that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was also cautious about fully endorsing Israeli warnings. Others in the Bush administration remain unconvinced that a nascent Syrian nuclear program could pose an immediate threat. . . .

Bruce Riedel, a CIA and National Security Council veteran and now a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, said that American intelligence agencies remained cautious about drawing hard conclusions about the significance of the suspicious activity at the Syrian site.

However, Riedel said Israel would not have launched the strike if it believed Damascus was merely developing more sophisticated ballistic missiles or chemical weapons.


"Israel admits to Syria air strike," BBC News, October 2, 2007

[They said it would have been years before the Syrians could have used the reactor to produce the spent nuclear fuel that could, through a series of additional steps, be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium.--David E. Sanger and Mark Mazzetti, "Analysts Find Israel Struck a Nuclear Project Inside Syria," Washington Post, October 14, 2007]

[The Syrian project has been going nowhere for 40 years, as Joseph Cirincione, author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons and a senior fellow and director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, informs us:

"It is a basic research program built around a tiny 30 kilowatt reactor that produced a few isotopes and neutrons. It is nowhere near a program for nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel."--Justin Raimondo, "The Dair El Zor Hoax,", October 15, 2007]

[US intelligence 'found no radiation signatures after the bombing, so there was no uranium or plutonium present,'--Justin Raimondo, "The Syrian 'Nuke' Hoax,", October 19, 2007]

[ElBaradei said he had no information that North Korea had been supplying nuclear know-how to Syria and noted the U.N. charter only permitted the use of force in the face of an imminent threat or with the prior approval of the world body.--Jon Boyle, "Iran seen to need 3-8 yrs to produce bomb," Reuters, October 22, 2007]

"IAEA chief criticizes Israel over Syria raid," Reuters, October 28, 2007

"'USAF struck Syrian nuclear site'," Jerusalem Post, November 2, 2007

William J. Borad, "Syria Rebuilds on Site Destroyed by Israeli Bombs," New York Times, January 12, 2008

[A senior Syrian official confirmed that a group of North Koreans had been at work at the site, but he denied that the structure was related to chemical warfare. . . .

There is evidence that the pre‘mptive raid on Syria was also meant as a warning about - and a model for - a preemptive attack on Iran.--Seymour M. Hersh, "What did Israel bomb in Syria?," New Yorker, February 11, 2008]

Gordon Prather, "Another Act of War,", February 9, 2008

Robin Wright, "N. Koreans Taped At Syrian Reactor: Video Played a Role in Israeli Raid," Washington Post, April 24, 2008

[Cheney and allies in Congress and the media are also using the Syrian reactor hubbub to undermine efforts by the U.S. state department, a primary hate object for neocons, to implement the nuclear weapons freeze with North Korea. State department boss Condoleezza Rice has run for cover, leaving her chief negotiator with North Korea to twist in the wind.--Eric Margolis, "The neoconning of a nation ," Toronto Sun, April 27, 2008]

[Partial results of samples from a Syrian site bombed by Israel show nothing to back up U.S. assertions that the target was a secret nuclear reactor, diplomats said Saturday.--George Jahn, "Diplomats: Syria passes 1st test of nuclear probe," Associated Press, September 20, 2008]

[Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, finds it "baffling" that there are apparently no commercial satellite pictures available of a site in Syria taken in the months just after the Israelis allegedly destroyed whatever was allegedly there prior to September 6th, 2007.--Gordon Prather, "Smoking Satellite Pics,", November 29, 2008]

"AP Exclusive: Syria says it will cooperate on nuclear probe but US pushes for UN referral," Associated Press, May 29, 2011

[There is no evidence, say investigators, that the plant in the city of Al-Hasakah was ever used for nuclear purposes - it is currently in use as a cotton-spinning plant - but its design, combined with the existence of a second suspected nuclear facility bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007, suggests a strong possibility that Syria was at one point pursuing nuclear-weapons capability much more vigorously than was previously supposed.--"UN fears Pakistani rogue scientist passed on nuclear secrets to Syria," Independent, November 2, 2011]

Joby Warrick, "That secret nuclear facility in Syria? It's a textile factory, researchers say in new report,", November 4, 2011

David Makovsky, "The Silent Strike: How Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear installation and kept it secret,", September 17, 2012

Hans Ruhle, "Assad 'nuclear factory' claim a hoax,", February 13, 2015

"Israel admits striking suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007,", March 21, 2018

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