Debka has a couple of interesting pieces on the Syria Nuke mystery. According to Debka there is a direct order from Assad, in his hand writting, ordering $120m in wheat to be delivered to N. Korea over the course of the next five years…
Clear Evidence Implicates Assad Personally in North Korean Nuclear Deal
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
October 27, 2007, 11:24 PM (GMT+02:00)
Al Hamed “cement ship”
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.
In addition to this, French Defense Secretary Morin is contradicting the IAEA’s El Baradai, on Iran’s nuclear weapon’s ambition…
DEBKAfile Reports: Iranian-Syrian nuclear issues heat up amid growing mistrust of IAEA director in Washington, Paris and Jerusalem
October 29, 2007, 10:33 PM (GMT+02:00)
FRench defense minister Herve Morian visit Saudi King Abdullah
French defense minister Herve Morin said Monday, Oct. 29, he has information that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. He thus publicly contradicted remarks made by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradai that there is no such evidence. Morin, on a visit to the Persian Gulf emirates, spoke at the same time as the IAEA director’s address the UN General Assembly.
DEBKAfile’s sources report that president Nicolas Sarkozy plans a state visit to Jerusalem in a few weeks, during which he will the address the Knesset on the Iranian nuclear threat, counter-measures and his commitment to Israel’s security.
Washington and Jerusalem are in intensive discussions over the prudence of Israel publicly leveling on its Sept. 6 attack on the Syrian installation, in consideration of the risk that a statement by prime minister Ehud Olmert could further raise war tensions. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Israel’s air force and navy have been on high alert for some days.
Washington and Jerusalem are of one mind about the need to refute ElBaradei’s position that there are no grounds for nuclear allegations against Iran and Syria.
Addressing the UN General Assembly Monday, the IAEA director admitted that Iran was flouting UN Security Council resolutions on two points: uranium enrichment continued and so did the construction of a heavy water plant in Arak. He made no reference to Iran’s current work with plutonium.
The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior American official who has worked extensively on nuclear issues: “I would say there’s no doubt now that Syria was in an early phase of a program.”
Some U.S. diplomats were quoted by the paper as deriding the IAEA for failing to identify the Syrian program itself. Involving the IAEA could have bogged down the Syrian proliferation threat in endless rounds of negotiations with no action. “The Israelis decided to take care of this early on. We don’t want to involve an agency that thinks it’s in control, but isn’t,” said one diplomat.
Something is in the works, only time will tell…