Patterico's Pontifications


Israeli Commandos seized North Korean Nuclear Material in Syria before Airstrike

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 7:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last week, reports circulated that Israel bombed Syria to destroy nuclear materials imported from North Korea.

Now the UK Times reports that Israeli commandos monitored Syria for months and, prior to the airstrike, seized North Korean nuclear material in Syria:

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say.

They confirmed that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified as North Korean. This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

In fact, this UK Times companion report states that Washington signed off on the airstrikes only after Israel provided proof positive that the nuclear materials were North Korean:

“Israeli commandos from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit – almost certainly dressed in Syrian uniforms – made their way stealthily towards a secret military compound near Dayr az-Zawr in northern Syria. They were looking for proof that Syria and North Korea were collaborating on a nuclear programme.

Israel had been surveying the site for months, according to Washington and Israeli sources. President George W Bush was told during the summer that Israeli intelligence suggested North Korean personnel and nuclear-related material were at the Syrian site.

Israel was determined not to take any chances with its neighbour. Following the example set by its raid on an Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak 1981, it drew up plans to bomb the Syrian compound.

But Washington was not satisfied. It demanded clear evidence of nuclear-related activities before giving the operation its blessing. The task of the commandos was to provide it.

Today the site near Dayr az-Zawr lies in ruins after it was pounded by Israeli F15Is on September 6. Before the Israelis issued the order to strike, the commandos had secretly seized samples of nuclear material and taken them back into Israel for examination by scientists, the sources say. A laboratory confirmed that the unspecified material was North Korean in origin. America approved an attack.”

I hope we don’t require so much proof that it’s too late for Israel or the US. In any event, this does not bode well for Syria.


59 Responses to “Israeli Commandos seized North Korean Nuclear Material in Syria before Airstrike”

  1. Haha, DRJ,

    A Rupert Murdoch owned paper quoting ” informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem” isn’t proof…it’s and Onion parody of neocon press outlets.

    alphie (99bc18)

  2. Would this be the North Korean nuclear materials made possible by the bumbling Clinton administration?

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  3. Just goes to show how much really goes on that we are not aware of. I think Iran should be very concerned. It is hard for me to imagine Bush leaving office without addressing their nuclear ambitions. If I were a betting man, I’d look for significant events shortly after the primaries next year.

    voiceofreason63 (b661d0)

  4. Some people, alphie, would only accept a mushroom shaped clould as proof. Better to be dead than sorry huh?

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III (039eca)

  5. Sorry, Zel,

    Only one pre-emptive war based on phony intelligence per customer.

    alphie (99bc18)

  6. I like how these articles always give the impression that without the US giving its “approval” or “blessing” that somehow the sovereign nation — in this case, Israel — would not dare go through with their plans. Not that there’s anything wrong with them informing or consulting us; it’s just funny to see these news sources make it sound like it was required for the Israelis to ask our permission first.

    Independent Conservative (394169)

  7. #6
    I remember during the first Gulf War how shocked people were that the Israelis didn’t respond to the scud attacks. I would imagine we used up every favor and chip we had to restrain them.
    I will always remember one particular event where Netanyahu (spelling I know) was being interviewed on CNN when a Scud attack started. He donned a gas mask and continued the interview and I thought “If ever there were a picture of Armageddon, that is it”

    voiceofreason63 (e11b5c)

  8. You know, I always wondered what became of those reports that Syria had taken delivery of what was left of Saddam’s weapons programs. We know Saddam had WMDs because he used them and even let us inspect them… but they disappeared, which was a justification for the war that never revealed any WMDs (of any great number).

    All Saddam needed was uranium for his preexisting program. Did Syria get this equipment? If not, what did they want nuclear material for? It’s not easy to get this equipment… so where did Syria get it?

    I think it’s as reasonable a guess as any that Syria got it from Iraq, and got the rest of what they needed from NK. Syria is, after all, the last remaining Baathist state.

    I believe the NYT has also reported this story. I find it hard to believe, but Israel likes to use forward observers, so it’s a safe bet that they did have some soldiers in Syria during the bombing run. We live in a time of war, and few are willing to admit it.

    Ultimately, it just doesn’t matter. We are beginning to fail in the WoT. Allowing any rouge state to have nukes is a huge failure.

    We had PLENTY of warning of the Nazis, but it took a hell of a lot of damage before the sleeping giant roused. 9/11 quickly got the snooze button. What will it take to wake us up?

    Dustin (9e390b)

  9. Alphie:

    Whence comes this hysteria on the Left about WMD?

    You do agree that at one time, Iraq had WMD… don’t you? Or do you believe the U.N. inspectors in the 1990s were part of the “neocon” plot against you?

    Well, the vast majority has never been accounted for. Some was likely destroyed; some was likely moved elsewhere; the rest was hidden in Iraq. We have no way of knowing how much WMD is in each category.

    Except you — because you evidently believe you know to 100% certainty that there was not so much as a gram of chemical or biological weaponry in Iraq in February 2003.

    Not only that, but you evidently believe that George W. Bush, of all the people in the world, was not fooled by the intelligence that said Iraq had WMD. You must believe that… because if Bush actually thought, along with everybody else, that there were stockpiles of WMD in Iraq — then what he said was not a lie, was it? It may be an error (we don’t know yet), but it was not a lie, which requires knowledge that the claim is false.

    And now you know to absolute certainty that North Korea could never have sold WMD to Syria.

    Alphie, do you ever just stop, take a deep breath, and use your common sense? Why do you even find it improbable that the DPRK, which is utterly desperate for hard currency, would sell nuclear technology to Syria — a country that can get as much money as it needs from Persian petro-rials?

    To me, it seems the most natural thing in the world, just as it was utterly unsurprising that Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan sold nuclear technology to everyone, including Saddam Hussein.

    You seem to swim in currents of Bush hatred so strong, they sear your soul, to paraphrase Winston Churchill. Everyone — even the Iraq Survey Group — even the Democrats — agrees that Hussein was anxious to get WMD and had been trying since the 1980s at least. We know that he had a very robust CBW program as recently as 1991, and that the U.N. found a bunch of WMD in the mid-1990s.

    Does it seem physically impossible to you that he could have managed to hide some of it from the (not very assiduous) U.S. inspectors? Or do you think it more plausible that he suddenly saw the error of his ways, reformed, turned over a new leaf, and tried to tread the straight and narrow in the last decade of his life?

    I really find you puzzling. You act more like Hussein’s and Assad’s defense attorney (a Barry Sheck-like lawyer, in fact) than someone honestly concerned about whether we might be attacked by chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. It’s as if the prospect frightens you so much, you prefer to pretend it doesn’t even exist… it’s all just a bad dream, and soon you’ll wake up.


    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  10. Dafydd,

    Over a million Iraqis have chosen to move to Assad’s Syria rather than stay in the neocon’s Iraq.

    I’ll take their vote of confidence in Syria over the whispered words of two of the least popular governments in the history of democracies.

    Didn’t Olmert actually hit a zero percent approval rating?

    I can’t blame the guy for trying to stir up a little Entebbe/Osirak nostalgia (there were commandos and everything!), but I don’t have to believe him.

    alphie (99bc18)

  11. alphie, you are a hoot! Who do you suppose the immigrators were? Do you suppose they were Al Queda or are you in denial about them being in Iraq also? (I won’t even go into where you got that curiously large and round number of Iraq-leavers. It most likely came from where the sun don’t shine.)
    Yes, alphie, someday GW will be out of office, the birds will sing again, the flowers will burst forth in bloom, it will always be 72 degrees and balmy outdoors and there will be peace and joy everywhere.
    You are a misguided fool. I would love to be around when you realize how much George Soros has used you as a useful idiot.

    MarineCorpsVet (6fb4f7)

  12. Are the fires that burning out of control in Syria connected with all this somehow?

    Do they have anything to do with Israel’s Vow to Wipe Syria Off of the Map?

    At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, might they be an air strike on a chemical weapons stockpile, another commando raid, or something else?

    Does anyone know anything (hard)about this at all?
    Has anyone heard anything about this? Have any links, if you have?


    mondoreb (f825da)

  13. Haha, MCV,

    That is some first class thinking!

    Any Iraqi who flees Iraq is al Qaeda…any Iraqi who stay is al Qaeda!

    Reminds me of my favorite line from Full Metal Jacket:

    Door Gunner: Git some! Git some! Git some, yeah, yeah, yeah! Anyone that runs, is a VC. Anyone that stands still, is a well-disciplined VC!

    Bush and Olmert could sure use your talents to punch up the crap they’ve been recycling lately.

    As for how many Iraqis are now living in Syria…Rupert’s own Fox News puts the number at 1.5 million now:,4670,SyriaIraqRefugees,00.html

    alphie (99bc18)

  14. A Rupert Murdoch owned paper quoting ” informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem” isn’t proof…it’s and Onion parody of neocon press outlets.

    It takes a special kind of idiot to believe that the owner of a paper determines the day to day reporting of the news.

    Are you saying that Murdoch ordered the story to be written a certain way? Are you seriously stupid enough to believe that a professional journalist would follow those orders and deliberately print a lie?

    This is not to say that a source is incorrect. But to be paranoid enough to believe that a publisher could order up a story like this is loony.

    Rick Moran (d671ab)

  15. Based upon past experience about ‘evidence’, I should like to see it for myself before I am bum-rushed, once again, by those with an agenda.

    Its’ ‘The Boy Who cried Wolf’ syndrome.

    Maybe the ISG could review when deemed necessary.
    Damned few people to trust.

    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  16. The problem here is not murdoch, but the reporter.

    The sensationalist Manhanimi is apparently a friend of alphie according to a comment by Israel Matzav on the same story (h/t memeorandum).

    gh (c858e4)

  17. #10
    Over a million Iraqis have chosen to move to Assad’s Syria rather than stay in the neocon’s Iraq.

    “Chosen” like millions of Americans will soon “chose” Hillary’s health care plan. How does the point of that bayonet feel in your back?

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  18. Off topic but the claims of huge numbers of Iraqi refugees has been knocked about quite a bit. I believe I believe I have even have seen alphie displaying his total confidence in Syrian honesty in one of the discussions on Protein Wisdom. The numbers come from Syria. They don’t allow independent count or allow interviewing to see who the refugees are, where they are, or why they are in Syria. Whenever the story resurfaces and it seems that it’s the UN or some other independent source fronting the claim it always comes back to numbers sourcing from Syria. It’s a good bet that a lot of Baathists fled Iraq into Syria. It’s a fools bet that 10% of the Iraqi population did.

    Question has nothing to do with the issue of WMDs though. Doesn’t impact the entirely separate issue of the air strikes. I accept the words and intentions of two democracies fighting the WoT over the words and intentions of a totalitarian regime on the other side. alphie is on the other side and naturally feels the opposite.

    Just Passing Through (ff997a)

  19. The Syrian/NK nuke angle brings this reaction from Joseph Cirincione, director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress:

    This story is nonsense. The Washington Post story should have been headlined “White House Officials Try to Push North Korea-Syria Connection.” This is a political story, not a threat story. The mainstream media seems to have learned nothing from the run-up to war in Iraq. It is a sad commentary on how selective leaks from administration officials who have repeatedly misled the press are still treated as if they were absolute truth.

    Once again, this appears to be the work of a small group of officials leaking cherry-picked, unvetted “intelligence” to key reporters in order to promote a preexisting political agenda. If this sounds like the run-up to the war in Iraq, it should. This time it appears aimed at derailing the U.S.-North Korean agreement that administration hardliners think is appeasement. Some Israelis want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria.

    steve (1bfd77)

  20. Center for American Progress – Progressive Ideas for A Strong, Just, And Free America.

    Now there’s a contradiction in terms. I’d trust US interests to Syria first.

    Just Passing Through (ff997a)

  21. alphie once again demonstrates for the rest of us the fine art of mental masturbation.

    Thanks, it’s always a delight to see an expert ply his trade.

    Horatio (55069c)

  22. Israeli Commandos Snatch Korean Nuclear Material …

    The Times of London reports that prior to the Israeli air raid on Syria’s secret military compound near Dayr az-Zawr, Israeli commandos seized samples of nuclear material and laboratory analysis confirmed that the material was North Korean in origin. …




    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  24. “Dafydd,

    Over a million Iraqis have chosen to move to Assad’s Syria rather than stay in the neocon’s Iraq.

    I’ll take their vote of confidence in Syria over the whispered words of two of the least popular governments in the history of democracies.”

    Most of Saddam’s allies and flunkies took their families to Syria. There are also a lot of Iraqi Sunni middle class who were probably not welcome anywhere else. I’m not surprised that alphie takes Saddam’s lieutenants’ word over ours.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  25. Joseph Cirincione

    This is, of course, the same Cirincione who also stated that Saddam had WMDs before we removed him from power.

    Which, of course, causes quite a dilemma for lefty apologists for Syria and North Korea.

    A dilemma that they’ll just ignore.

    In any event, even if Syria and North Korea openly admitted to the transfer of nuclear material, their apologists would still be in favor of doing nothing.

    Except, of course, blaming Bush for forcing the two regimes into such actions.

    We know the routine.


    SteveMG (6a854a)

  26. “We know the routine.”

    I do. You still seem suckered.

    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  27. I do. You still seem suckered.

    Yep, I believed folks like Joe Cirincione.

    And Clinton (both of them), and Gore, and Kennedy, and Blair and on and on and on ……

    I didn’t give the benefit of doubt to brutal regimes.

    You apparently do.

    Right out of central casting.


    SteveMG (6a854a)

  28. Alphie and ‘Cleo will always take the words of radical Islamic fighters and dictators over that of their own countrymen. It’s par for the course.

    Techie (c003f1)

  29. Alphie and ‘Cleo will always take the words of radical Islamic fighters and dictators over that of their own countrymen


    If they want to express doubt about statements from their own government, good for them. I’ve got no problem (for the most part).

    It’s the suspension of disbelief (as someone recently said) about the actions of dictators that is troubling.

    Okay, don’t believe Bush. But for heaven’s sake, have just a little bit of doubt about the rulers of one-party states.

    Just a little, please?


    SteveMG (6a854a)

  30. “…two of the least popular governments in the history of democracies.”

    Typical leftoid, basing his decisions and comments on a popularity contest. “I know, I know, lets do what the prom queen says.”

    There is only one popularity contest that counts and it’s called an election, so you take your prom queen and go elsewhere and let the grownups run the country. Bush, Cheney et al. may be wrong but at least they are not childish paranoid fools blithering about blood for oil and ulterior motives about Syria.

    Syria has nothing worth taking and is a terror state. Only a loon would mutter darkly about “the Agendas are Legion”, capitalized no less.

    BlacquesJacquesShellacques (93278f)

  31. . “Only a loon would mutter darkly about “the Agendas are Legion”, capitalized no less.”

    No substantive comments relative to lessons learned at the hands of the Iraq War cheerleaders(links found above).

    OK, Carry On.

    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  32. SteveMG,

    I see a British newspaper passing along propaganda from “informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.”

    There’s no mention that these sources, who won’t identify themselves, are:

    1. American government officials
    2. Americans

    alphie (99bc18)

  33. Alphie, NYTimes runs stories along those lines all the time. Do you object to those as well?

    Techie (c003f1)

  34. There’s no mention that these sources, who won’t identify themselves, are:

    Oh, any American official or American is immediately dismissed, right?

    But North Korean or Syrian officials can be believed?

    Because there is no way that these two governments would ever engage in such a transaction?

    Let me ask you, my friend: If the North Koreans and Syrians were to openly admit that there was indeed a transfer of nuclear materials, what would you say about that exchange?


    SteveMG (6a854a)

  35. Alphie in 33–you obviously have access to the reporter’s notebooks.

    BTW, if it really were NeoCon propaganda, wouldn’t they have something involving Iran in this story?

    kishnevi (7c2ec5)

  36. “wouldn’t they have something involving Iran in this story?”

    Naw. That would strain their credulity

    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  37. SteveMG,

    If Condi Rice, that guy who replaced Rummy or W. himself wants to pull a Colin Powell and accuse Syria of having nuclear weapons and lay out the evidence they have before America, I’ll listen.

    But the Iraq fiasco will certainly make it a tough sell.

    And they’ll have to explain what they’re gonna do about the 1,500,000 Iraqis who have fled to Syria from the neocon’s last attempt to stop WMDs if they want permission to attack Syria.

    Maybe Israel will offer to take them in?

    alphie (99bc18)

  38. Naw. That would strain their credulity.

    In other “news”, Cheney might have mulled pushing cleo all the way over the line into sentience. News at 11.

    Slartibartfast (97fc68)

  39. Naw. That would strain their credulity

    Spoken like a true conspiracy theorist.

    But if I was a neocon propagandist, I wouldn’t want to invent a story that drew attention away from the country I was trying to make the focus of my next attack, that is, Iran, and instead drew attention to countries that were really dangerous, that is, Syrian and North Korea. I’d want to keep the drumbeat of war centered on Iran. Also, I would know how gullible the press and public of this country are, and would not be too concerned about credulity.

    [I’ll leave it to anyone who is not Alphie and Cleo to determine exactly how tongue in cheek the above paragraph is.]

    kishnevi (7c2ec5)

  40. It would make sense that N Korea wants to be serious about stopping its nuclear ambitions and allow other nations to inspect…once they’ve moved stuff to Syria.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  41. Alphie wrote:

    Only one pre-emptive war based on phony intelligence per customer.

    Well, assuming that the reports are true, Syria ought to be screaming to the high heavens about an unprovoked Israeli attack. There’s only one reason Syria and the rest of teh Arab world wouldn’t be screaming about this, and that’s knowledge that yes, it was a nuclear weapons site, and yes, the Israelis have hard evidence of it.

    And it was also a message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: we take nuclear weapons programs seriously, and we aren’t playing games here.

    Dana (c36902)

  42. Bashar wouldn’t be screwing around with WMD. Blinky said he told her he was a man of peace during her “Save the World from Neocons” tour. If you can’t believe Nancy and her ability to judge character (see most ethical congress in history), who can you believe?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  43. Dana – Absolutely correct. They were caught red handed. Otherwise we would have been flooded with the usual anti-Israel rhetoric about their aggression. What do we have instead, crickets.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  44. daley,

    Syria has protested the airstrike to the U.N.

    What else do you think they should do?

    alphie (99bc18)

  45. Did that twerp AF get banned? I’m out of pocket for a while and this thread is right up his demented alley.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  46. Syria has protested the airstrike to the U.N. What else do you think they should do?

    What do you think the UN will do – pass another resolution condemning the Israelis which the US will block – once again. If they feel that aggrieved, then declare war on Israel. Of course if they do, Damascus will be burnt toast. But hey, go for it Mr. Assad – be a man like your father, not a wussie.

    Horatio (55069c)

  47. Aah, that’s the tricky part, Horatio.

    The Iraqi refugees living in Syria(quite a few in Damascus) are wards of the United States.

    Killing a bunch of them would be…problematic for Israel.

    At the very least, the U.S. would probably cut off the $3 billion in welfare it sends to Israel each year.

    alphie (99bc18)

  48. Why would Iraqis in Syria be wards of the US, Alphie?

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  49. Yeah… and at the very least the US would cut off aid to Israel…?

    You pulled that one out of where?

    Oh wait… the same place you pulled the Iraqis in Damascus are wards of the US bullcrap out of….

    “Because of the illegal war BushCheneyHalliburtonBlackwater is waging…”

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  50. alphie is really stepping up the stupidity these days. Is there a “Troll of the Year” or “Stupidest Comment” contest going on somewhere?

    JD (c3bb88)

  51. Israeli commandos, “almost certainly dressed in Syrian uniforms” (equal parts Laughable Speculation/Who Gives a Fuck?), seize “unspecified
    material” that “a laboratory” (Where? In Israel?) claims is of “North Korean origin” (Nuke Kit: Property of Kim Jong Il)

    Break out the fucking Pulitzers:
    This report has it all.

    Leviticus (81f351)

  52. Levi – Is the preening skepticism reserved for Israel and the US?

    JD (c3bb88)

  53. Levi – The reports of the deaths of the Syrians and Iranians from that chemical warhead accident in July reported in Jane’s Defense weekly – probably nothing to that either. Move on. Nothing to see. Dictators supporting terrorism in that region have absolutely no history of attempts to acquire WMD. Totally implausible story.

    daleyrocks (906622)


    Here’s something courtesy of Joshua landis who I’m sure you all read regularly, seeing as you’re all so well informed..

    blah (ae8ba2)



    Thanks for turning me on to Landis. I did not know that.

    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  56. WELL WELL still the doubters around and the terroist supporters but bush is right and clinton also should bare responsibility ,the iranian and syrian regimes are terroist supporters and although they have all their supporters filling blogs with we are peacefull crap the truth is quiet different as is now shown ,saddam did have wmds but the scientists and material was obviously moved to syria ,the world should be gratefull that usa /bush can see through the properganda regimes and know a lot more than we do but how can anyone argue now? iran /syria does support hezzbolla /hammas /and shia in iraq so if you cant work out what a threat they are you need help .good on usa for standing up to these terroist regimes and trying to keep the peace in the world that these loony regimes locked in a time warp are trying to destroy ,and i thank all the brave soldiers of usa and others who continue to die for our peace /the free world shoulds support them too instead of putting profit 1st .and iran/syria, for all your huffing and puffing about how tough you are, consider this you fought iraq for eight yrs it took usa 1 week .be warned pull your idiot mullars into line or i think you might be next and rightly so !

    jack (d2012d)

  57. Fortunately for all of us, alphie’s approval is not required for anything. At all.

    luagha (678c67)

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