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Friday, October 19, 2007

Israeli Jets Destroy Partially Constructed Syrian Nuclear Plant

Israel's neighbors from Syria to Iran seem determined to build a nuclear facility to produce nuclear weapons. Israel is just as determined to prevent them from constructing these facilities. While the U.S. gnashes its teeth about these facilities, Israel bombs first and doesn't ask any questions later. The Israeli air raid in September was to destroy a partly constructed Syrian reactor that appeared to be based on North Korea's design. Clearly we are entering a dangerous period in human history when Middle Eastern countries are working so diligently to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.

Nuclear reactors can be used for both peaceful and non-peaceful purposes. There are two paths to building a nuclear weapon, 1) A reactor's spent fuel can be reprocessed to extract plutonium, 2) enriching uranium in centrifuges. The Syrians were pursuing the former and Iran is being accused of pursuing the latter. Israel conducted a similar raid in 1981 when it destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq shortly before it was to have begun operating. Syria is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which gives it the right to construct nuclear plants to produce electricity.

This incident, along with the saber rattling about an Iranian centrifuge/reactor shows the importance of establishing an international program (GNEP) to manage nuclear fuel without the prospect of building nuclear weapons. Unless the rogue nations can somehow construct such a facility in complete secrecy (think Manhattan Project), they will always be destroyed by a stakeholder country.

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