Sakset/Fra hofta

Forbindelsen mellom Nord-Korea og Syria begynte allerede under Hafez al-Assad og Kim il-Sung. Hva sønnene deres har funnet på sier en del om hva diktaturer kan finne på, og hvor høyt de kan spille.

Nordkoreanerne har bygget flere flystriper inne i fjell, for å unngå bombing fra luften, skriver Sunday Times. Man kan tenke seg omkostningene i et land der folk sulter ihjel. Men menneskeliv er ingen hindring. Heller ikke i Syria.

Øyespesialisten Bashar al-Assad har åpenbart bestemt seg for et dristig, noen vil si livsfarlig, spill: likvidasjonen i Libanon, og rollen i forhold til Irak, som mottaker av hundretusener av flyktninger og trasnittland for jihadister. Men planen om å skaffe seg atomvåpen var et skritt for mye. Assad kan ha blitt fristet av tilsiget av irakiske vitenskapsmenn som flyktet til Syria etter Saddams fall. Irak hadde ikke bomben, men de hadde hjerner.

Today North Korea and Syria are ruled by the sons of their 20th-century dictators – Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000 and Kim Jong-il took over in 1994. They inherited a hatred of America and a fondness for authoritarian family rule.

Syria possesses the biggest missile arsenal and the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the Middle East, built up over the past two decades with arms bought from North Korea.

North Korea, which detonated a nuclear device in October 2006, has become pivotal to Syria’s plans to enhance and upgrade its weapons.

Syria’s liquid-fuelled Scud-C missiles depend on «essential foreign aid and assistance, primarily from North Korean entities», said the CIA in a report to the US Congress in 2004.

Det er noe 007 og Specter-Bloefeld over eksperimentene til Syria/Nord-Korea. Noen ganger går det galt, som i den undersjøiske hulen til Dr. No:

Diplomats based in Pyongyang have said they now believe reports that about a dozen Syrian technicians were killed in an explosion and train crash at Ryongchon, North Korea, on April 22, 2004. North Korea blamed a technical mishap, but there were rumours of an assassination attempt on Kim, whose special train had passed through the station en route to China some hours earlier.

No independently verified cause of the disaster was made known. However, teams of military personnel wearing protective suits were seen removing debris from the section of the train in which the Syrians were travelling, according to a detailed report quoting military sources which appeared on May 7, 2004, in the Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.

The technicians were said to be from Syria’s Centre D’Etudes et de Recherche Scientifique, a body known to be engaged in military technology.

Their bodies were flown home by a Syrian military cargo aircraft which was spotted on May 1, 2004 at Pyongyang. There was speculation among military attachés that the Syrians were transporting unconventional weapons, the paper said at the time. Diplomats said the Sankei Shimbun report was now believed to be accurate.

Det finnes naturlig nok en enda en spiller, som vil ha et ord med i laget: Iran.

Last year Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that dozens of Iranian engineers and Syrians were killed on July 23 attempting to load a chemical warhead containing the nerve gases VX and sarin onto a Scud missile at a plant in Syria.

The Scuds and warheads are of North Korean design and possibly manufacture. Some analysts think North Korean scientists were helping the Syrians to attach air-burst chemical warheads to the missiles.

Syria possesses more than 100 Scud-C and ScudD missiles which it bought from North Korea in the past 15 years. In the 1990s it added cluster warheads to the Scud-Cs that experts believe are intended for chemical weapons.

Like North Korea, Syria has an extensive chemical weapons programme including sarin, VX and mustard gas, according to researchers at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute in California.

The Scud-C is strategically worrying to Israel because Syria has deployed it with one launcher for every two missiles. The normal ratio is one to 10. The conclusion: Syria’s missiles are set up for a devastating first strike.

Aftenposten kritiserer Syria for å ha sendt fredsfølere og samtidig bygget en atomreaktor, men skriver så:

Det svake og sårbare Syria utgjør neppe noen «eksistensiell trussel» mot Israel, slik det er blitt hevdet.

Hvilken planet befinner Aftenposten seg på?

Since 2004 there have been a series of leaks designed to suggest that Syria has renewed its interest in atomic weapons, a claim denied by Damascus.

In December 2006 the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Siyasa, quoted European intelligence sources in Brussels as saying that Syria was engaged in an advanced nuclear programme in its northeastern Hasakah province.

It also quoted British security sources as identifying the man heading the programme as Major Maher Assad, brother of the president and commander of the Republican Guard.

Early last year foreign diplomats had noticed an increase in political and military visits between Syria and North Korea. They received reports of Syrian passengers on flights from Beijing to Pyongyang, almost the only air route into the country. They also spotted Middle Eastern businessmen using trains between North Korea and the industrial cities of northeast China.

Then there were clues in the official media. On August 14 Rim Kyongman, the North Korean minister of foreign trade, was in Syria to sign a protocol on «cooperation in trade and science and technology». His delegation held the fifth meeting of a «joint economic committee» with its Syrian counterpart. No details were disclosed.

Initially, the conclusion of diplomats was that the deal involved North Korean ballistic missiles, maintenance for the existing Syrian arsenal and engineering expertise for building silos and bunkers against air attack. Now it is known that Israeli intelligence interpreted the meeting as the last piece in a nuclear jigsaw; a conclusion that Israel shared with President George W Bush.

IAEA ved El Baradei klaget over at Israel og USA ikke hadde delt informasjonen med FN. Det må ha vært et utslag av dårlig samvittighet og frustrert impotens. El Baradei burde heller takket Israel for å ha forpurret at Midtøsten får nok en atommakt.

In a period of detente, the United States and its allies concurred when China sold a 30kw nuclear reactor to Syria in 1998 under international controls.

Then, in 2003, American intelligence officials believe that Syria recruited Iraqi scientists who had fled after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Like other countries in the region, Syria renewed its pursuit of nuclear research.

The calculus changed for good after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb in 2006 and admitted to a plutonium stockpile sufficient for 10 more.

The danger to Israel is multiplied by the triangular relationship between North Korea, Syria and Iran. Syria has served as a conduit for the transport to Iran of an estimated £50m of missile components and technology sent by sea from North Korea to the Syrian port of Tartous, diplomats said.

They say Damascus and Tehran have set up a £125m joint venture to build missiles in Syria with North Korean and Chinese technical help. North Korean military engineers have worked on hardened silos and tunnels for the project near the cities of Hama and Aleppo.

Israel also noted reports from Pyongyang that Syrian and Iranian observers were present at missile test firings by the North Korean military last summer and were given valuable experimental data. Israeli sources said last week that Iran was informed «in every detail» about the nuclear reactor and had sent technicians to the site.

Such was the background against which Israel took its decision to strike.

Historien minner om Abdel Qadeer Khans salg av atomteknologi til Iran og Libya. Trafikken kan pågå i årevis uten at det slås alarm. Informasjonen kommer bitevis, og først i etterkant ser man hele puslespillet. Hva om det ikke oppdages i tide?

Kim Jong-il builds ‘Thunderbirds’ runway for war in North Korea