Monday, April 28, 2008
Assad’s one half-truth and three lies to al Watan
In an interview Sunday, April 27 with the Qatari daily al Watan , Syrian president Bashar Assad said: "We don’t want a nuclear bomb, even if Iran acquires one.” DEBKAfile’s military sources say that was only half true. What he omitted to mention was the division of labor agreed between Damascus and Tehran in a potential war against Israel: The Syrian reactor Israel destroyed last September would produce “dirty weapons,” while Iran would go for a nuclear bomb. Tehran therefore funded the North Korean reactor in Syria. The radiological weapons made there were to be distributed to the terrorist organizations fighting Israel and used as leverage to control them.
“How would we use it? And where? No nuclear bomb has been used since World War II,” the Syrian ruler protested in the interview - three days after intelligence of his plutonium reactor weeks away from operation was presented to US congressmen in Washington.
Our military sources stress that a single radiological bomb released by just one terrorist group against a major Israeli city would have been an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Assad’s first outright lie was his insistence that future Middle East wars would be conventional. DEBKAfile’s sources point out that Syria and Iran have recently supplied the Lebanese Hizballah with surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads. And Syria’s own air defenses are composed of Scud C and D missiles able to deliver chemical and biological weapons.
His second lie was that the site Israel raided last year was no nuclear site but a military facility under construction. To prove his point, he asked: “Does it make sense that we would build a nuclear facility in the desert and not protect it with anti-aircraft defenses?”
Our sources note that the deployment of air defenses batteries, especially in a desolate corner of the Syrian Desert would have attracted immediate attention and betrayed its presence - even before the top-secret facility was functioning.
Assad’s third lie was the real point of the al Watan interview, although the least obvious: The Syrian ruler, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, decided last week to bury the results of the inquiry into the death of Hizballah commander Imad Mughniyeh in February. That report accused Saudi undercover agencies of involvement in the murder together with the Israeli Mossad.
Saudi ire forced Assad to back away from this allegation. This he did in the interview when he declared that “no Arab hand” was found to have taken part in the Mughniyeh slaying.
The interview was therefore aimed more at placating Riyadh than highlighting the Syrian ruler’s issues with Israel.