[DEBATE] : Strike on Syria Reactor a Joint Spy Victory: CIA
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Wed Sep 17 12:24:33 BST 2008
Strike on Syria reactor a joint spy victory: CIA
Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:44pm EDT
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The destruction of a suspected Syrian nuclear
reactor last year was the result of an intelligence collaboration that
included a "foreign partner" who first identified the facility's
purpose, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said on Tuesday.
The reactor at the desert outpost of Al-Kibar was flattened in an air
strike on September 6, 2007 that senior U.S. intelligence officials
have said was carried out by Israel on its own initiative.
"Our foreign partnerships ... were critical to the final outcome,"
Hayden said in a speech for delivery to the World Affairs Council of
A U.S. intelligence official declined to specify the partner Hayden
referred to or to say whether it was Israel. He said there have been
no signs that Syria was trying to replace the destroyed reactor.
Israel has never given an account of the strike or formally confirmed
that it took place and some Israeli officials have quietly voiced
dismay at U.S. disclosures about the strike.
"We were able last year to spoil a big secret, a project that could
have provided Syria with plutonium for nuclear weapons," Hayden said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied U.S. allegations that his
government pursued nuclear weapons with the help of North Korea.
Hayden said a report from the unnamed foreign partner first identified
the facility as a reactor similar to one in North Korea, although U.S.
intelligence had identified it as suspicious.
"When pipes for a massive cooling system were laid out to the
Euphrates River in the spring of 2007, there would have been little
doubt this was a nuclear reactor," Hayden said.
"We would have known it was North Korean, too, given the quantity and
variety of intelligence reports on nuclear ties between Pyongyang and
Hayden said Iran remained a proliferation concern despite a formal
conclusion last year by U.S. intelligence agencies that Tehran had
suspended efforts to develop a nuclear warhead and weapons.
"Iran's behavior, coming as it does after years of nuclear activity
they concealed and continue to deny, invites nothing but suspicion,"
The United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday said
Iran had blocked an inquiry into whether it had researched ways to
make a nuclear bomb.
Hayden acknowledged U.S. arguments were open to question after
Washington wrongly accused Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of maintaining
an active weapons program, the main reason cited by the Bush
administration for invading Iraq in March 2003.
"One could argue that Iraq under Saddam was just as confrontational
and ultimately lacked the weapons we thought were there," he said.
"Iran's leaders saw what happened to Saddam and still they reject
every opportunity to come clean with the world."
(Editing by John O'Callaghan)
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