CBNNews.com - Congress members will view a videotape and other evidence Thursday showing that Syria was building a nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance before Israeli planes bombed the facility last year, a U.S. official says.
U.S. intelligence officials consider the evidence "extremely compelling," the U.S. official said, adding that it was gleaned from a variety of sources, not just Israeli intelligence.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity late Wednesday because of the sensitive nature of the information.
CIA Director Michael Hayden and other intelligence officials are to brief Congress on the evidence related to the bombed Syrian facility in appearances Thursday before six committees.
Israeli warplanes bombed a site in Syria on Sept. 6, 2007, that private analysts say appears to have been the site of a reactor, based on commercial satellite imagery taken after the raid. The site later was razed.
The target of Israel's raid has been veiled in secrecy, with U.S. intelligence and government officials refusing to confirm until now suspicions that the site was to be a nuclear reactor.
The Syrian reactor was similar in design to a North Korean reactor that has in the past produced small amounts of plutonium. The official said no uranium - the fuel for a reactor - was evident on site.
Plutonium-producing reactors are of international interest because plutonium can be used to make high-yield nuclear weapons.
But Syria has maintained in the past that the site was an unused military facility.
Syria did not declare the apparent reactor to the International Atomic Energy Agency nor was it under international safeguards, possibly putting Syria in breech of an international nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
The revelation of alleged North Korean cooperation with Syria comes at a sensitive time for Pyongyang.
U.S. diplomats are pressing North Korea to come clean about its nuclear cooperation with Syria as part of those talks but have had little success.
Under an agreement reached last year with the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, the North is required to give a full account of its nuclear programs, including whether it spread nuclear technology.
North Korea claims it gave the nuclear declaration to the U.S. in November, but U.S. officials say the North never produced a "complete and correct" declaration.
The Capitol Hill briefings come the same week a U.S. delegation went to North Korea to press the regime for a detailed list of its nuclear programs, the latest sticking point at international nuclear disarmament talks.
Source: The Associated Press