Monday, September 29, 2008
Syria resumes covert nuclear projects in partnership with North Korea
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that it took Damascus a year to recover from the demolition of its plutonium project at El Kibar in northern Syria, but already the nuclear scientists and technicians who were to have been employed there have been hired for new projects. This time the installations are scattered in different parts of the country. North Korean nuclear experts are back too.
Our military sources describe rising tension between Syria and Israel in the wake of the car bomb explosion Saturday, Sept. 27, which killed 17 people and injured 14 outside a Syrian security installation at Sidi Kadad on the highway to Damascus airport. The victims were not officially identified.
Various Arab sources report that one was a Syrian brigadier who was not named. After the attack, DEBKAfile’s sources raised the possibility that it might have targeted people involved in Iranian/Syrian nuclear activity.
Damascus has been wary of accusing Israel of engineering the blast, but unofficial Syrian intelligence sources have indirectly pointed the finger at Israel claiming it was an attempt to spoil Syria’s improving relations with the West.
Western intelligence sources note that Syria has been hit in the past year with attacks associated with its clandestine nuclear activities.
The El Kibar reactor was knocked out on Sept. 6, 2007 while it was under construction. On Aug. 2, 2008, Gen. Muhammad Suleiman was shot dead by a sniper in Latakia. He was a key man in the Syrian nuclear program and acted as liaison officer for Damascus with Iran and North Korea.
If Saturday’s blast did indeed cause the death of a high Syrian officer involved in the program, it would have been the third consecutive operation against Damascus’ revived application to clandestine nuclear projects.