CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - A former member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard told U.S. Intelligence agencies that Iran financed North Korean efforts to advance Syrian nuclear arms program.
General Ali Reza Asghari, a former Iranian deputy defense minister who defected to the U.S. in February 2007, provided a detailed accounting of Iranian sponsorship of Syria's nuclear arms program.
An article in the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung, authored by Hans Ruehle, former chief of the planning staff of the German Defense Ministry, described in detail the information Asgari provided U.S. Intelligence.
Reuhle, whose work is published in various European media outlets, writes primarily on nuclear proliferation.
According to Reuhle, Iranian sponsorship of Syria's nuclear program came as a surprise both to the U.S. and Israel.
"The biggest surprise, however, was the assertion that Iran was financing a secret nuclear project of Syria and North Korea," the author stated.
"No one in the American Intelligence scene had heard anything of it. And the Israelis who were immediately informed also were completely unaware," Ruehle wrote.
In the article, Reuhle traces the history of Syria's clandestine nuclear program from 2002 when U.S. Intelligence noted North Korean ships delivering construction material to Syria.
By 2003, U.S. satellite images showed the construction, but officials dismissed it as irrelevant. Syria, meanwhile, forbade the use of any electronic communication at the site, using messengers instead.
In August 2007, a 12-man Israeli commando unit in two helicopters took photographs and soil samples.
"The analysis was conclusive that it was a North Korean-type reactor," a gas graphite model, Ruehle wrote.
According to some sources, the plant could have produced enough plutonium to produce one bomb annually.
The last straw was the interception of a North Korean ship en route to Syria with nuclear fuel rods.
"On the morning of September 6, 2007, seven Israeli F-15 fighter bombers took off to the north. They flew along the Mediterranean coast, brushed past Turnkey and pressed on into Syria. Fifty kilometers 30 MILES from their target, they fired 22 rockets at the three identified objects inside the Kibar complex.
"The Syrians were completely surprised. By the time their air defense systems were ready, the Israeli plans were well out of range. The mission was successful, the reactor destroyed," Reuhle wrote.
A U.S official denied the report.
"There is strong reason to believe that only two countries were involved in building the Syrian covert nuclear reactor at al-Kibar: Syria and North Korea," he said.
Unlike the Bush administration, which sought to isolate Syria and Iran for their state sponsorship of terrorism, U.S. President Barack Obama wants to reestablish America's diplomatic ties with Syria and Iran.
Source: The Associated Press