Intense alarm about NoKo nuke materials in Syria (updated)

Caroline Glick points out alarming implications of the September 6 Israeli raid on a claimed North Korean nuclear materials site in Syria. If official leaks about the IAF raid are true,      the North Koreans have again reneged on their solemn promises to the Six-Nation Group to retreat on their own nuke program.  Instead, they have secretly shipped nuclear weapons materials, possibly off-the-shelf fissile uranium or plutonium, to Syria, in close collaboration with Iran

Here is what we know, and what we can infer.

1. On September 6, the Israel Air Force (IAF) bombed a Syrian site near the Iraq border, soon after a North Korean ship docked with a claimed cargo of "cement." The NoKo ship flipped its ownership identity more than once before it docked in Syria. Israeli, American and European sources hint that the Syrian site was a supposed agricultural research station that in fact was used to store nuclear materials. The site was reportedly destroyed 

2. The scheduled six-party meeting between the NoKos and China, the United States and three other nations was  immediately canceled.

3. It is believed that Iran is closely involved in Syrian-NoKo weapons cooperation. The Axis of Evil is alive -- minus Saddam Hussein and Iraq. By themselves neither Syria nor North Korea have the finances to support an aggressive build-up, such as the one Syria has been conducting with new Russian air defense systems, missiles, possibly off-the-shelf nuclear components, and chemical weapons that recently led to a chemical warhead explosion in which dozens of Iranian and Syrian engineers and officers died, according to Jane's Defence Weekly.

4. But the plot thickens with reports of Iranian high-quality forged dollars, which have reportedly been used to pay for the Iranian nuclear weapons program. According to Glick: 

"One of the inheritances the mullahs received from the Shah of Iran after they overthrew him in 1979 was a US-supplied Intaglio currency printing press. Since at least 1989 this printing press has been used to produce so-called "super-notes."

"Super-notes are highly sophisticated counterfeit US bills that are nearly undetectable. The advent of the supernotes forced the US Treasury to print new currency twice in a decade. In 1992 a Congressional Task Force concluded that the bills which proliferated in Lebanon's Hizbullah and Syrian-controlled Beka'a Valley were of Iranian and Syrian origin. In 2005, the first super-notes were intercepted in the US. They were sourced to North Korea."
(Note: The Beka'a Valley was widely reported to be the destination for Saddam Hussein's WMDs, smuggled out of Iraq by Russian Spetznaz troops during the American assault on Baghdad. It was under Syrian control at that time. Saddam's WMD's might have been moved to Syria when the Beka'a Valley became less secure for the Syrians during last summer's Hezbollah War.)
"According to a report Sunday in Yediot Aharonot, Iran has financed its purchase of nuclear and other materiel from North Korea through the provision of super-notes to Pyongyang. The US believes that Pyongyang itself procured a Swiss-made Intaglio press sometime in the 1990s. Intelligence services agree that Iran, Syria and North Korea collaborate closely in their currency counterfeiting operations.
"In 2003, the State Department concluded that the North Korean regime had sustained its economic viability principally through counterfeit currency operations."
5. So far, all these points are supported by public reports. We can infer the following:

a. The NoKo agreement with the United States, China, and South Korea to reduce its nuke program in exchange for economic aid is now dead.

b. The United States is now making urgent representations to China to move against the NoKos in order to protect its credibility as a guarantor of the agreement. As a major trading partner, China's credibility matters to its own rulers.

c. The United States may have provided targeting intelligence to the IAF for its bombing raid on the "agricultural research station." The IAF raid also showed that recent advanced Pantsyr air defense systems purchased by Iran and Syria can be defeated. Both Syria and Iran are therefore much more vulnerable to air attack than they seemed to be before the raid.

d. Iran, Syria and North Korea have therefore fulfilled the predictions of their worst critics. That is why the Germans and the French have publicly given up on their diplomatic efforts to get Iran to back down on its rush to nuclear weapons.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who carries great credibility on the Left in Europe, has just warned that "the world should prepare for war over Iran's nuclear programme," according to the BBC News, which quoted Kouchner as saying, "We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war."

For a change, both the French and Germans are actually facing danger, rather than denying its existence. Kouchner said,

"We have decided while negotiations are continuing, to prepare eventual sanctions outside the ambit of UN sanctions. Our good friends, the Germans, suggested that."
6. A final point. Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the fanatical president of the Khomeinist regime in Tehran, is flying to New York to speak at the UN General Assembly next week. We do not know what he will say, but chances are that he has been sent by the Supreme Guide of the Mullahcracy to see if any of Iran's credibility can be rescued from this mess. On the public evidence, that now seems unlikely, suggesting that stronger sanctions against Iran are due soon. If the UN Security Council fails to adopt strong economic sanctions, the Europeans appear to be on board for a separate Coalition of the Willing effort to squeeze the Tehran regime. 

Iran is a truly malevolent regime. It's been caught in the act, along with Syria and North Korea. Ahmadi-Nejad will try to brazen this one out at the UN next week. We have previously speculated that Ahmadi-Nejad may not be emotionally capable of losing face in public, and we may see that next week, if he is confronted with the incriminating evidence. We may see a classic Hitler-like rage attack. If the Iran regime decides to backtrack, they may need to get rid of Ahmadi-Nejad, who looks to be out of control.

Whether this rogue regime trio can be made to see reason is very doubtful. They have not done so before, after being given numerous opportunities.

James Lewis blogs at

Update: Thomas Lifson writes:

Jeffrey Lewis who publishes the blog thinks the supposition that Israel is attacked a Noko nuclear facility is “crap” (and other more emphatic and vulgar terms). Although he “confines” his analysis so far to constructing a timeline of the thinly-sourced connections made in the MSM (especially Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post) among the separate elements, he is not shy in his conclusions and ignores Israeli sources with the remark, “these are just the stories I have the stomach to read.”
He also cites:
Joe Cirincione who nails this story on the head:
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.

You tell ‘em, buddy.

You can Joe’s entire statement, as well as Glenn Kessler’s response,
over at Foreign Policy.

Certainly he is correct that the conclusion that a North Korean-constructed nuclear facility was bombed is far from nailed down. But his own lack of definitive evidence is in odd juxtaposition with his categorical conclusion that there is no substance at all to any connections.

His recent book on China’s nuclear armory is described and plugged on his site. Here is the first description he offers from a disinterested academic source:

The Minimum Means of Reprisal reveals the unique nature of the Chinese nuclear philosophy and provides rigorous and convincing evidence on China's approach to nuclear deterrence. Lewis offers a fresh, informative, and valuable perspective on China's nuclear and arms control behaviors. Anyone interested in the U.S.-China relationship should read this book.
Li Bin, Professor and Director of the Arms Control Program at the Institute of International Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Hat tip: Rick Moran