Friday, May 12, 2006

U.S. intelligence agencies suspect Syria was offered and received nuclear weapons technology from the covert Pakistani supplier group headed by A.Q. Khan, according to an intelligence report.

An annual report to Congress on arms proliferation states that Pakistani investigators have confirmed reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency that the Khan network “offered nuclear technology and hardware to Syria.”

“We are concerned that expertise or technology could have been transferred,” said the intelligence report, which is the first time the Bush administration has publicly linked Syria to Khan.

“We continue to monitor Syrian nuclear intentions with concern.”

President Bush has said that the Khan network supplied nuclear goods to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

The report, known as the 721 report because of the provision of intelligence legislation that required it, covered the period of 2004. Its release was delayed by the new Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which took control of the report from the CIA as part of an intelligence reorganization.

The report noted that Syria is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is required to submit to IAEA safeguards and inspections.

Syria conducts nuclear research at three facilities located at Dayr, Al Hajar and Dubaya, the report said.

“In 2004 Syria continued to develop civilian nuclear capabilities, including uranium extraction technology and hot cell facilities, which may also be potentially applicable to a weapons program,” the report said.

The report also said China is a “key supplier” of nuclear, missile and weapons of mass destruction goods to states of concern.

Chinese companies “continued to work with Pakistan and Iran on ballistic missile-related projects and firms in China provided dual-use missile-related items, raw materials, or assistance to Libya and North Korea,” the report said.

Chinese language documents found in Libya revealed that the Khan network had supplied it with nuclear warhead design information. China’s government has not said how its warhead information made its way from Pakistan to Libya.

China supplied most of the uranium-enrichment technology and bomb designs that allowed Pakistan in 1998 to become a declared nuclear power. The proliferation was a violation of China’s obligation to the NPT but Beijing was never punished for the activities.

On missiles, the report said Syria continued to seek help in building solid-propellant rocket motors, and that North Korea supplied equipment and assistance to the missile program.

Syria is building its own liquid-fueled Scud missiles and is developing a 500-mile-range Scud D and other variants with help from North Korea and Iran, the report said.

Another key supplier is Russia, which has supplied missile technology and goods to China, Iran, India and North Korea, as well as nuclear technology and goods to Iran and India.

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