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Memorandum from members of Congress, 2008, regarding H.R. 2332 Syria Accountability and Liberation Act (4 pages)



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Congress of the United States Washington, DC 20515 Stop Syria from Developing a Nuclear Capability - and Hiding the Evidence Confront the Growing Syrian Threat: Cosponsor H.R. 2332 Dear Colleague, We would like to draw your attention to recent articles from the New York Times and AFP that we have attached for your review. The New York Times article, entitled "Syria Rebuilds on Site Destroyed by Israeli Bombs," notes that a satellite photograph released Friday shows new construction on the site of a Syrian facility which, reports indicate, was destroyed by an Israeli strike last September. Independent technological experts have concluded from other imagery that the destroyed building's design was similar to a North Korean reactor that could produce nuclear material for one bomb a year. After the strike, the Syrian regime rushed to clean up the site, likely removing any and all evidence of a secret nuclear program Syria allegedly established with the illicit aid of North Korea. Syria also refused to permit international inspectors to visit the site; the new construction likely completes the cover-up. "The new building covers whatever remained of the destroyed one," said former UN weapons inspector David Albright. Moreover, the AFP article, entitled, "Israel planned 1991 strike on N. Korea-Syria ship: report," states that in 1991, Israel discovered that a ship was carrying short-range Scud missiles from North Korea to Syria, and that Israel intended to launch an air strike on the ship, but cancelled at the last minute due to U.S. pressure. These new developments indicate that, for over 15 years, Syria has pursued multiple weapons capabilities with the assistance of North Korea. Moreover, Syria continues to undermine Israel and other regional allies; to undermine the sovereignty of Lebanon; and to sponsor Islamist terrorist groups. Syria has also served as a transit point for radical insurgents crossing into Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers and innocent Iraqis, and to undermine the government there. In short, the Syrian regime continues to destabilize the region and threaten the security of the U.S. and our allies. Thus far, Syria's behavior in 2008 has proven no different. The time to address the Syrian threat is now. We have introduced the Syria Accountability and Liberation Act (H.R. 2332) to hold the regime in Damascus accountable for these and other destructive policies by, among other measures, strengthening sanctions targeting Syria's energy infrastructure. Chairman Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Ranking Member Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia MIKE PENCE Syria Rebuilds on Site Destroyed by Israeli Bombs New York Times January 12, 2008 The puzzling site in Syria that Israeli jets bombed in September grew more curious on Friday with the release of a satellite photograph showing new construction there that resembles the site's former main building. Israel's air attack was directed against what Israeli and American intelligence analysts had judged to be a partly constructed nuclear reactor. The Syrians vigorously denied the atomic claim. Before the attack, satellite imagery showed a tall, square building there measuring about 150 feet long per side. * After the attack, the Syrians wiped the area clean, with some analysis calling the speed of the cleanup a tacit admission of guilt. The barren site is on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, 90 miles north of the Iraqi border. The image released Friday came from a private company, DigitalGlobe, in Longmont, Colo. It shows a tall, square building under construction that appears to closely resemble the original structure, with the exception that the roof is vaulted instead of flat. The photo was taken from space on Wednesday. Given the international uproar that unfolded after the bombing, "we can assume it's not a reactor," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that has analyzed the Syrian site. If international inspectors eventually get to the site, he added, they will have a more difficult time looking for nuclear evidence. "The new building," he noted, "covers whatever remained of the destroyed one." Skeptics have criticized the nuclear accusation, saying the public evidence that has so far come to light was ambiguous at best. They noted, for instance, that at the time of the attack the site had no obvious barbed wire or air defenses that would normally ring a sensitive military facility. The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna recently became aware of the new construction, a European diplomat said Friday. "Obviously, they're keeping an eye on the site," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the issue's diplomatic delicacy. As a signer to an agreement with the atomic agency, Syria is obligated to report the construction of a nuclear reactor to international inspectors. Nuclear reactors can make plutonium for the core of atom bombs, and therefore secretive work on reactors is usually interpreted as military in nature. Senior Syrian officials continue to deny that a nuclear reactor was under construction,' insisting that what Israel destroyed was a largely empty military warehouse. Mohamed ElBaradei, who directs the atomic agency, this week told Al-Hayat, an Arabic-language newspaper based in London, that his agency wanted to inspect the site. 2 "So far, we have not received any information about any nuclear programs in Syria," he said, according to a transcript posted on the newspaper's Web site. Dr. ElBaradei said he had asked for the Syrians' permission "to allow the agency to visit the facility and to verify that it was not nuclear." He added: "The Syrian brothers did not allow us to visit and inspect the location." While some analysts have suggested that the new building might slow down international inspectors, Dr. ElBaradei said in the interview that his agency had sensitive "technologies to assure that the location did not host a nuclear facility." The satellite photographs, he added, led experts to doubt "that the targeted construction" was in fact a nuclear reactor. Israel planned 1991 strike on NKorea-Syria ship: report AFP January 9, 2008 Israeli agents prepared to strike a ship suspected of smuggling missiles from North Korea to Syria in 1991 but cancelled it at the 11th hour under US pressure, a Japanese newspaper reported Wednesday. Undercover agents of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency secretly attached a guidance system for an airstrike on a cargo vessel believed to be carrying 23 short-range Scud missiles to Syria, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. The Yomiuri, reporting from Jerusalem, said it spoke to one of the agents involved in the operation, whose name was transliterated into Japanese as Michael Ross. Ross said he and two colleagues disguised themselves as workers for shipping carriers and headed to Casablanca, Morocco. In February 1991, they managed to get close to the ship, which was believed to be jointly owned by Syrian and Jordanian firms, and swam underneath it to set up equipment to guide an airstrike, the report said. Israel had planned to destroy the vessel and missiles, which with a range of 500 kilometers (300 miles) would put the Jewish state at risk. The incident came during the first Gulf War, during which the United States, managing a coalition with Arab states including Syria, pressured Israel not to respond to Scud missile attacks by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The Yomiuri said Israel's then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir called off the airstrike on the North Korean missiles at the last minute. "Probably the prime minister gave up on the plan out of consideration to the United States," Ross was quoted as telling the Yomiuri. 3 "If we blew up the vessel, it would have been inevitable to have many Syrian casualties and it might have been taken as a declaration of war against Syria," he was quoted as saying. Impoverished North Korea, one of the few non-Muslim states that has no relations with Israel, is believed to rely on weapons exports as one of its top money-makers. In September Israel launched an air strike in Syria, which Western media reports said targeted a nuclear facility developed with North Korea. 4