Sunday, September 16, 2007

About That Hole

It appears that Israel may have used its incursion into Syria to rmove a potential nuclear threat. From the Times On Line:

Israelis ‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’
Secret raid on Korean shipment crossed the Syrian coast-line.

It was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.

At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames. Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.

Holy Nuclear Cache Batman! Mebbe the Syrians stumbled across a natural radioactive formation that "evolved" into an arms bunker?

It took over a week but we're now starting to get more information about the nature of Israeli's attack. The Israelis are still pretty much mum on this but other sources are shaking loose.

The Israeli government was not saying. “The security sources and IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers are demonstrating unusual courage,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. “We naturally cannot always show the public our cards.”

Just show us the smoke and debris. Oh, and the hole, we gotta see the hole.

The Syrians were also keeping mum. “I cannot reveal the details,” said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. “All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.” The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.

The official story isn't the only thing that crumbled in Syria; let's not forget about the hole. But don't fret about the Syrians. They will take drastic action as soon as they change trou and break out the Combat Depends.

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from “secret suppliers”, and added that there were a “number of foreign technicians” in the country.

I'll take "Secret North Korean Suppliers" for $200, Alex. You have to wonder about the Syrians. They never seem to learn. Did they really think the Isrealis wouldn't find out what they were doing?

According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.

The Israeli spy chief apparently feared such a device could eventually be installed on North-Korean-made Scud-C missiles.

“This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel,” said an Israeli source. “We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead.”

Gauging by the smouldering debris and body parts, it appears that Israel isn't going to allow Syria to live with one either.

An expert on the Middle East, who has spoken to Israeli participants in the raid, told yesterday’s Washington Post that the timing of the raid on September 6 appeared to be linked to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying North Korean material labelled as cement but suspected of concealing nuclear equipment.

Oh drat! North Korea's kill-the-jooooos-glow-in-the-dark-cement discount coupon expired last week. Gotta check the Sunday paper for more...

The target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates river. Israel had been monitoring it for some time, concerned that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.

This must be the Syrian NukraGrow facility where they cultivated the hundred pound garbanzo beans. It took a falafel the size of the Meadowlands to get rid of them.

According to an Israeli air force source, the Israeli satellite Ofek 7, launched in June, was diverted from Iran to Syria. It sent out high-quality images of a northeastern area every 90 minutes, making it easy for air force specialists to spot the facility.

I wonder if the anti-aircraft positions around the falafel factory gave them away?

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