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April 26, 2008

Complicity in Acts of Aggression


by Gordon Prather

Well, according to the Associated Press, a "top U.S. official" – speaking, as always, "on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter" – told reporters that "evidence" would be presented to Senate and House Intelligence Committees that the Syrian facility our Major Non-NATO Ally, Israel, attacked without provocation and destroyed last September, was a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor "within weeks or months of being functional."

"CIA Director Michael Hayden, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley briefed lawmakers, who were shown a video presentation of intelligence information that the administration contends establishes a strong link between North Korea's nuclear program and the bombed Syrian site. It included still photographs that showed a strong resemblance between specific features of the plant and the one near Yongbyon."

What’s weird is that the top official also told reporters the North Koreans had no objection to that presentation being made. The Israelis did, but the Koreans didn’t!

You see, just a few weeks ago, knowing what would be in such a presentation, a spokesman for the North Korean (DPRK) Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed us for the deadlocked U.S.-DPRK bilateral talks, which, in turn, have resulted in deadlocked Six-Party talks on ending the Korean War.

President Bush has personally made the "ending" of the Korean War conditional on DPRK admitting during U.S.-DPRK bilateral talks that the charge we first made back in 2002 that Kim Jong-il had a secret "uranium-enrichment" nuclear-weapons program and the charge we made last year that Kim Jong-il was helping the Syrians essentially duplicate the quasi-successful DPRK plutonium-based nuclear-weapons program were true.

According to the DPRK spokesman –

"The U.S. side is playing a poor trick to brand the DPRK as a criminal at any cost in order to save its face."

Bush has reportedly told his negotiators not to agree to anything "that makes me look weak."

"Explicitly speaking, the DPRK has never enriched uranium nor rendered nuclear cooperation to any other country. It has never dreamed of such things."

Our negotiators claimed the issue of "suspected uranium enrichment" could only be solved if the DPRK told us the whereabouts of "the imported aluminum tubes."

So, the Koreans actually took our experts to see those tubes, which – like the Iraqi aluminum tubes – were central to some military application; they even provided us with samples!

Okay, but what about the video presentation just made to Congress, which purports to show a reactor vessel – "similar" to that of the Soviet-designed Soviet-supplied 5 Mwe natural-uranium fueled, graphite-moderated reactor which became operational in 1986 – in a facility under construction, allegedly in Syria, with "Korean faces among the workers"?

The Israelis – allegedly the source of this "intelligence" – apparently believe (and want gullible members of the Best Congress Money Can Buy to believe) that ten-foot tall Korean nuclear scientists and engineers have gone into the nuclear-reactor export business.

(When it comes to Israeli "intelligence," Congresspersons are especially gullible. And it would never occur to them that if Syria really wanted nuclear-weapons – and Kim Jong-il wanted them to have them – it would be much cheaper and faster to just buy them from the quasi-successful DPRK nuclear-weapons producers.)

At the time the Soviet Union disintegrated, they had under construction at Nyongbyong two scaled-up natural-uranium fueled graphite-moderated plutonium-producing nuclear reactors. After the disintegration, Russia stopped construction of those large reactors and made the DPRK subject the Soviet-designed Soviet-built reactors to an International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement, as required by the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Every outsider who has visited Nyhongbyong since has reported no signs the Koreans have attempted to complete construction of the large reactors. In fact, all DPRK reactors have been reported to be in a dismal deteriorating state.

But it is conceivable that DPRK metallurgists and engineers are capable of making "reactor vessels" for small reactors. After all, most of the steel reactor vessels for Soviet nuclear power plants were outsourced to the Czech Republic. The diameter of such reactor vessels was restricted by the requirement that when loaded on a Soviet railroad flat car, it could pass through Soviet railroad tunnels.

So, what will be the (perhaps unpredictable) result of this latest "disclosure" in Congress by the Cheney Cabal?

Will Congress declare war on Russia? On the DPRK? On Syria?

How about on Iran? Maybe this was just a dress rehearsal for an Israeli attack on Iran.

After all, according to Hillary,

"Iran continues to pursue a nuclear [weapon] option. Those weapons, if they got them, would probably pose the greatest threat to Israel. During the Cold War, it was the United States policy to extend deterrence to our NATO allies. An attack on Great Britain would be treated as if it were an attack on the United States. Should it be U.S. policy now to treat an Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack on the United States?"

Hillary to the contrary, under U.S. law, Major Non-NATO Allies do not enjoy the same mutual defense and security guarantees afforded bona-fide members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We are not obligated to regard an attack on Israel or Pakistan or Jordan or Kuwait as an attack on us.

However, MNNAs are eligible for participation in cooperative research and development programs (such as the U.S.-Israeli Arrow anti-ballistic missile program) as well as priority sales or grants of "excess" U.S. weapons and associated equipment (such as the TOW missiles we provided Israel to replace the ones they sold to Iran, during the Iran-Contra Affair).

Furthermore, MNNAs can take advantage of the Defense Export Loan Guarantee program, which provides loan guarantees for foreign purchasers of U.S. defense products – such as the F-16s that destroyed that Iraqi reactor back in 1981 and the suspect "reactor vessel" in Syria last year – in much the same way the Export-Import Bank provides guarantees for U.S. commercial products.

But, when one of our MNNAs uses any of our supplied weapons in acts of aggression – such as the Israelis did two years ago in Lebanon and did last year in Syria and are apparently contemplating doing this year in Iran – we are complicit. Congress is complicit.

Hillary and Obama and McCain ought not to be demanding to know if Syria somehow acquired what the Israelis claim looks like a reactor vessel. Rather, they should be demanding that no MNNA ever again be allowed to make us complicit in an act of aggression.

And while they’re at it, they might prohibit this and any future President from committing another war of aggression.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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