Israel’s Right of Self-Defense

Israeli officials ain’t talking, but the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) is reporting that "government sources" in the United States and elsewhere "suggest" that two weeks ago a squadron of Israeli fighter-bombers attacked "a nuclear facility in northern Syria storing – or processing – nuclear materials provided by North Korea."

JTA also noted the week-earlier Washington Post report that within the preceding month the Israelis had provided Stephen Hadley – President Bush’s National Security Advisor – "dramatic satellite imagery" of a facility under construction in Syria which led "some" of the very few administration officials allowed to see the imagery "to believe the facility could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons."

Here we go again!

Raw foreign "intelligence," withheld from our zillion-dollar multi-agency intelligence community, chock-full of skilled professionals who evaluate satellite imagery for a living, stovepiped directly to the White House where "some" members of the Cheney Cabal – proven neophytes when it comes to evaluation of satellite imagery of any industrial process – have concluded the facility under construction could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons.

What kind of material?

The JTA report continues,

"According to the foreign reports, the story goes back to the beginning of the year and a secret meeting between North Korean and Iranian officials in the remote Korean border town of Ch’ongjin.

"The North Koreans, having agreed to dismantle their nuclear weapons program in return for normalized ties with the West, were looking to sell off nuclear technology and materials the Iranians were only too willing to buy.

"The key material on offer was plutonium.

"If North Korea were willing to deal in nuclear material with Iran, the implication was Syria could be a nuclear buyer as well.

"The Syrians long had wanted to acquire a nuclear weapons program of their own and, with North Korean help, they built a facility for plutonium processing and eventual weapons building."

Great Zot!

According to reports attributed to "government sources" in the U.S. and "elsewhere"?

That North Korea – the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea – had secretly offered to sell some or all of its weapons-grade plutonium to Iran? And the dirty guys had probably also offered to secretly sell it to others, too, including Syria?

Offered to sell the plutonium they have produced as a result of Bush’s unilateral abrogation of the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework wherein DPRK’s plutonium-producing reactor and plutonium-recovery facility had been shut-down, subject to seals and locks of the International Atomic Energy Agency?

To sell the plutonium that they have had a right to produce, separate and quite openly try to sell ever since Bush provoked them into withdrawing from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?

Yep, that’s it.

Of course, it would be a violation of both Syria’s and Iran’s IAEA Safeguards agreements – which they have entered into pursuant to being signatories to the NPT – to buy the Bush-DPRK plutonium.

Unless, of course, they immediately declared the Bush-DPRK plutonium and made it subject to their Safeguards Agreement. That would be all right. There’s nothing [.pdf] in the NPT or their IAEA Safeguards Agreement that prohibits their producing or otherwise obtaining weapons-grade uranium (almost pure uranium-235) or weapons-grade plutonium (almost pure plutonium-239). Just so long as they declare it to the IAEA. The prohibition is against the "diversion" of declared NPT-proscribed materials to a military purpose.

But the IAEA has never found an "indication" – much less any evidence – that Iran or Syria have ever diverted any NPT-proscribed materials to a military purpose.

(True, in the immediate aftermath of the First Gulf War, to the absolute astonishment and extreme embarrassment of our intelligence community, the IAEA did find evidence that Iraq had attempted to divert NPT-proscribed materials – which they had failed to declare – to a military purpose. Iraq had violated its Safeguards Agreement as well as the NPT and, consequently, the Security Council imposed sanctions on Iraq, to be lifted whenever the IAEA certified that Iraq no longer had any materials or facilities that could be used in furtherance of a nuclear weapons program. The IAEA offered to make that certification at the end of 1997.)

How about the reports attributed by JTA to U.S. and other government officials that North Korea has helped the Syrians build a facility for "plutonium processing and eventual nuclear weapons production"? A Korean knock-off combination of our Rocky Flats and Pantex plants? Presumably similar to the facility the North Koreans apparently now have?

Problem is, our intelligence community doesn’t know where that Korean Pantex-Rocky Flats facility is, much less do they have satellite imagery of it.

So, on what basis do some members of the Cheney Cabal who have viewed the satellite imagery stovepiped to the White House by the Israelis conclude that the facility the Israelis have apparently just attacked – with our blessing – was a facility that could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons?

Well, Syria and Israel are still technically at war – just as North and South Korea are technically still at war.

So why not just bomb the geewhiz of that Syrian facility that "could" be a Korean combo knockoff of the Pantex and Rocky Flats Plants.

And even it the facility is just a facility for housing the ballistic missiles Syria quite openly buys from North Korea, or even tunneling and earth-moving equipment, the Israelis will have made their point.

With respect to the Israeli attack, JTA quotes Bonkers Bolton, former (un-confirmable) ambassador to the United Nations, now returned to his perch at the American Enterprise Institute, as follows;

“We’re talking about a clear message to Iran – Israel has the right to self-defense – and that includes offensive operations against WMD facilities that pose a threat to Israel. The United States would justify such attacks.”

Do you suppose the Iranians got the message?

Well, the IAEA certainly did. Two weeks after the Israeli raid on Syria, members of the IAEA General Conference elected Syria as its Deputy Chairman.

How do like them apples, Bolton?

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.