Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, June 13, 2008

China Hand, "Twilight of the NPT? The US, Syria, Iran, North Korea and the Control of Nuclear Weapons," Japan Focus, May 9, 2008.

The United States has pushed the international non-proliferation regime to the breaking point.

Anxiety over US attempts to define and direct the international non-proliferation regime may be provoking some dangerous decisions in the Middle East.

The alleged clandestine nuclear facility at al Kibar in Syria that Israel bombed in September 2007 is a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

The Syrian government emphatically denies that there was a nuclear facility there.

Experts aren’t sure there was a reactor, and are even less sure, if there was one, that its purpose was weapons-related.

The United States and Israel insist that North Korea assisted Syria in building a clandestine reactor that would produce plutonium from un-enriched uranium.

But instead of celebrating their vigilance and decisiveness in pre-empting the devious nuclear machinations of a rogue state, in the months after the Israeli bombing, Washington and Tel Aviv remained remarkably diffident about publicly pointing fingers at Damascus or Pyongyang. This has led to accusations that the State Department was more concerned about preserving the Six Party Agreement on North Korea than putting paid to full and cadet members of the Axis of Evil.

And there is still no good explanation as to why, seven months after the Israeli Defense Force bombed the facility to rubble—and six months after a frantic session of demolition, dismantling, and construction by Syria to bury whatever was at al Kibar under a new concrete box—the Bush administration decided to resuscitate its long dormant obligation to keep Congress and the IAEA informed with a dog-and-pony show including aerial photography, alleged photos from inside the Syrian facility and a video leaning on computer reconstructions.

And this was only after elements inside the Bush administration had spun a competing story that al Kibar was a non-nuclear SCUD assembly facility.

Somebody’s got to be lying.

Or maybe everybody is.

But one thing is for certain.

The International Atomic Agency was left holding the short end of the stick again.

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