Jerusalem – The details of the attack in Syria on Sept. 6 will not be revealed in public by the U.S. Congress. Israel has agreed to a hearing in Congress, but it will take place behind closed doors with the members of the committee on the matter. Israeli security sources welcomed the decision not to publicize the attack, hoping that this would prevent Syria from being pushed into a retaliatory attack against Israel.

The details of the discussion will not be released for publication.

The goal of the discussion in Congress is to examine the involvement of North Korea in establishing the nuclear compound on the banks of the Euphrates River in Syria that, according to the foreign reports, was the target of the attack by Israel approximately seven months ago.

It is feared that, if an authoritative source such as the U.S. Congress reveals exact details about the target that was attacked by Israel, pressure upon Syrian President Bashar Assad to order a retaliatory attack against Israel could increase. The security establishment has claimed that if Mr. Assad does not order retaliation, “the very fact of publication will push him further into a corner and intensify the tension.”

According to foreign press reports, it was believed that Israel attacked a nuclear reactor in its construction stage that was being built with help from North Korea.

Almost half a day passed until the first report came out, according to which Syria had driven off an Israeli fighter jet.

Israeli officials did not comment on the Syrian claims, and the Israeli censor demanded that the Israeli media submit to it all reports about the matter. U.S. officials also refused to comment on the attack. Only two days later, the Turkish media reported about the detachable fuel tanks from an Israeli aircraft that were found on that country’s soil and that apparently served the fighter jets that entered its territory on the way to attack the target in the Dir-Azur region.

A satellite photograph of the area showed that the Syrians acted quickly, using heavy machinery to obliterate the structures that had been built there and damaged. The International Atomic Energy Agency contacted Syria in order to check whether there is radioactive residue in the area, but it did not obtain cooperation.

Background On Reactor Attack

The belief that North Korea made its vast nuclear knowledge available to Iran came onto the agenda in light of Israel’s attack in Syria last September. According to the foreign reports, the target near the Euphrates River that was attacked was a nuclear installation that North Korea had built for Syria with a great deal of secrecy. As early as October, approximately a month after the attack, Ma’ariv revealed that Arab intelligence officials suspected that North Korea was aiding Iran’s nuclear project, as it had helped Syria, according to the reports. Meanwhile, a report in the Times of London, like other reports from past months, indicate that the fear that Iran has obtained a “shortcut” in its nuclear project with generous help from North Korea is only increasing.

According to the report in the Times, rockets with ranges of at least 5,000 miles are being developed in the compound south of Tehran, which was exposed in satellite photographs. For the sake of comparison, Shihab rockets, which Iran already has and which can reach anywhere in Israel, have a range of 1,300 kilometers. It is known to Western intelligence officials that the Iranians are also developing cruise missiles with technology they bought from Ukraine.

According to the worrisome assessments, while the world’s attention over the past several years has been on the effort to prevent Iran from obtaining the first nuclear bomb by means of enriching uranium (the U.N. exposed the enrichment process in 2002, following which the proceedings against Iran began, which take the form of gradual economic sanctions), it is actually likely that North Korea gave Iran a nuclear bomb that was almost ready that came from plutonium enrichment.

It appears that Iran also worked to develop a nuclear bomb by enriching plutonium (a completely different process from uranium enrichment), though the conventional wisdom in the West was that uranium was the quickest way for it to obtain a nuclear bomb. It was also accepted that the first date on which Iran would be able to obtain its first nuclear bomb in this way would be only in the next decade, even if the precise timing was not completely known. If the fear that North Korea helped Iran to advance its nuclear project should be turn out to be true, this could mean that the timetable toward an Iranian nuclear bomb will be much shorter and perhaps even allow Iran to announce that it possesses nuclear weapons within a year or two.

Israeli security officials have confirmed that the more time that has passed since the attack in Syria, the greater the fear that Iran received help from North Korea in advancing its nuclear program. It is likely that the possibility that North Korea is also helping Iran in its nuclear project will be brought up during the expected discussion in Congress about the Israeli attack in Syria.

Israel Believed Likely To Attend Sharm El-Sheikh Summit

The White House’s announcement about President George Bush’s desire and intention to use his visit to Israel in honor of its 60th anniversary in May to try to promote the peace process that began with the Annapolis conference in November 2007 has begun to gather momentum.

In the next number of weeks, Mr. Bush is to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (AKA?Abu Mazen) in Washington in order to present him formally with the idea of holding a summit meeting that, apparently, will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The U.S. administration has yet to announce the summit meeting, but assessments in Jerusalem and Washington suggest that is what the administration would like to do.

The only concern preventing a declaration about the summit is that a security crisis could erupt between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Israeli targets.

Officials in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau are troubled by the initiative and have been trying to strike the planned summit meeting from the agenda of the peace process. The formal explanation offered is that the peace process hasn’t matured enough to allow for a summit meeting of that kind to be held on such short notice. But informed sources underscored that the real reason is the fear that in the course of the summit the United States might toe the line taken by the other countries in attendance, such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah.

In that sort of climate, say Israeli officials, the pressure on Mr. Bush from the three Arab leaders, in conjunction with the permanent pressure from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as well as the objective pressure of time given the looming end of his term in office, could prompt Mr. Bush to become more sympathetic to the Palestinian positions and even adopt some of them, thus adding pressure to Israel to show greater flexibility on the core issues.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

Jerusalem – The details of the attack in Syria on Sept. 6 will not be revealed in public by the U.S. Congress. Israel has agreed to a hearing in Congress, but it will take place behind closed doors with the members of the committee on the matter. Israeli security sources welcomed the decision not to publicize the attack, hoping that this would prevent Syria from being pushed into a retaliatory attack against Israel.

The details of the discussion will not be released for publication.

The goal of the discussion in Congress is to examine the involvement of North Korea in establishing the nuclear compound on the banks of the Euphrates River in Syria that, according to the foreign reports, was the target of the attack by Israel approximately seven months ago.

It is feared that, if an authoritative source such as the U.S. Congress reveals exact details about the target that was attacked by Israel, pressure upon Syrian President Bashar Assad to order a retaliatory attack against Israel could increase. The security establishment has claimed that if Mr. Assad does not order retaliation, “the very fact of publication will push him further into a corner and intensify the tension.”

According to foreign press reports, it was believed that Israel attacked a nuclear reactor in its construction stage that was being built with help from North Korea.

Almost half a day passed until the first report came out, according to which Syria had driven off an Israeli fighter jet.

Israeli officials did not comment on the Syrian claims, and the Israeli censor demanded that the Israeli media submit to it all reports about the matter. U.S. officials also refused to comment on the attack. Only two days later, the Turkish media reported about the detachable fuel tanks from an Israeli aircraft that were found on that country’s soil and that apparently served the fighter jets that entered its territory on the way to attack the target in the Dir-Azur region.

A satellite photograph of the area showed that the Syrians acted quickly, using heavy machinery to obliterate the structures that had been built there and damaged. The International Atomic Energy Agency contacted Syria in order to check whether there is radioactive residue in the area, but it did not obtain cooperation.

Background On Reactor Attack

The belief that North Korea made its vast nuclear knowledge available to Iran came onto the agenda in light of Israel’s attack in Syria last September. According to the foreign reports, the target near the Euphrates River that was attacked was a nuclear installation that North Korea had built for Syria with a great deal of secrecy. As early as October, approximately a month after the attack, Ma’ariv revealed that Arab intelligence officials suspected that North Korea was aiding Iran’s nuclear project, as it had helped Syria, according to the reports. Meanwhile, a report in the Times of London, like other reports from past months, indicate that the fear that Iran has obtained a “shortcut” in its nuclear project with generous help from North Korea is only increasing.

According to the report in the Times, rockets with ranges of at least 5,000 miles are being developed in the compound south of Tehran, which was exposed in satellite photographs. For the sake of comparison, Shihab rockets, which Iran already has and which can reach anywhere in Israel, have a range of 1,300 kilometers. It is known to Western intelligence officials that the Iranians are also developing cruise missiles with technology they bought from Ukraine.

According to the worrisome assessments, while the world’s attention over the past several years has been on the effort to prevent Iran from obtaining the first nuclear bomb by means of enriching uranium (the U.N. exposed the enrichment process in 2002, following which the proceedings against Iran began, which take the form of gradual economic sanctions), it is actually likely that North Korea gave Iran a nuclear bomb that was almost ready that came from plutonium enrichment.

It appears that Iran also worked to develop a nuclear bomb by enriching plutonium (a completely different process from uranium enrichment), though the conventional wisdom in the West was that uranium was the quickest way for it to obtain a nuclear bomb. It was also accepted that the first date on which Iran would be able to obtain its first nuclear bomb in this way would be only in the next decade, even if the precise timing was not completely known. If the fear that North Korea helped Iran to advance its nuclear project should be turn out to be true, this could mean that the timetable toward an Iranian nuclear bomb will be much shorter and perhaps even allow Iran to announce that it possesses nuclear weapons within a year or two.

Israeli security officials have confirmed that the more time that has passed since the attack in Syria, the greater the fear that Iran received help from North Korea in advancing its nuclear program. It is likely that the possibility that North Korea is also helping Iran in its nuclear project will be brought up during the expected discussion in Congress about the Israeli attack in Syria.

Israel Believed Likely To Attend Sharm El-Sheikh Summit

The White House’s announcement about President George Bush’s desire and intention to use his visit to Israel in honor of its 60th anniversary in May to try to promote the peace process that began with the Annapolis conference in November 2007 has begun to gather momentum.

In the next number of weeks, Mr. Bush is to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (AKA?Abu Mazen) in Washington in order to present him formally with the idea of holding a summit meeting that, apparently, will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The U.S. administration has yet to announce the summit meeting, but assessments in Jerusalem and Washington suggest that is what the administration would like to do.

The only concern preventing a declaration about the summit is that a security crisis could erupt between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Israeli targets.

Officials in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau are troubled by the initiative and have been trying to strike the planned summit meeting from the agenda of the peace process. The formal explanation offered is that the peace process hasn’t matured enough to allow for a summit meeting of that kind to be held on such short notice. But informed sources underscored that the real reason is the fear that in the course of the summit the United States might toe the line taken by the other countries in attendance, such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah.

In that sort of climate, say Israeli officials, the pressure on Mr. Bush from the three Arab leaders, in conjunction with the permanent pressure from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as well as the objective pressure of time given the looming end of his term in office, could prompt Mr. Bush to become more sympathetic to the Palestinian positions and even adopt some of them, thus adding pressure to Israel to show greater flexibility on the core issues.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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