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“N.K., Syria Began Nuke Cooperation in 1997”: CIA

Posted April. 26, 2008 06:11,   


The U.S. Central Information Agency unveiled some documents, substantiating a suspicion that North Korea supported Syria’s secret nuclear weapons development, along with pictures containing both the North Korean envoy to the six-party talks and a Syrian nuclear committee member to Congress on Thursday (local time).

The figure in the picture, released by the CIA as decisive evidence, is known to be the person in charge of the nuclear fuel manufacturing facilities in Yongbyon.

According to the media, the U.S. administration announced that the nuclear facilities in northeastern Syria, which was bombed by Israel last September, began to be built in 2001 and was about to begin operation, and North Korea is suspected to have cooperated with Syria from 1997.

In an interview with a Japanese broadcasting network, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said, “The nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Syria is a thing of the past and the United States thinks that they are not cooperating now.”

As the fact that North Korea and Syria cooperated for nuclear development is disclosed, a backlash from U.S. right-wing hawks and North Korea is expected. But the United States and the communist regime have reportedly made advancements in reaching an agreement in regard to verifying the nuclear program that the North will report and had an in-depth discussion in the plutonium-related issue.

Accordingly, it is expected that the North will soon submit the report to China, the chair of the six-party talks, and finalize reporting the nuclear program by May, and the six-party talks will resume to prepare for the phase of nuclear abandonment.

A U.S. official said that John Rood, the U.S. State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security, briefed on the North Korea-Syria issue to International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed El Baradei and that the United States hopes the IAEA would launch a probe into the problem.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “That should not have an impact on the progress of the six-party talks.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said, “In terms of nuclear non-proliferation, it is a serious issue. We are concerned about it.”

sechepa@donga.com jin0619@donga.com