American government sources have said that Israel shared intelligence information with the Bush Administration this summer indicating that North Korean nuclear personnel were in Syria, the Washington Post reported Friday. According to the report, the sources said the White House was deeply concerned by the possibility that North Korea was assisting the nuclear ambitions of a country closely linked with Iran.
The American newspaper reported that the sources said, however, that Bush opted against an immediate response due to fears it would undermine negotiations with Pyongyang aimed at securing the dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear scheme.
The sources reportedly said the United States is believed to have provided Israel with some corroboration of the original intelligence, prior to an alleged Israel Air Force strike on Syria earlier this month. According to reports in the American and British media, the target of the alleged strike was a nuclear facility built with North Korea's assistance.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. sources said the IAF strike was carried out in the middle of the night in order to minimize potential casualties. The report stated that the quality of the intelligence, which included satellite imagery, is uncertain, as is the extent of North Korean assistance and the seriousness of the Syrian effort.
The Washington Post said this uncertainty raises the possibility that North Korea was merely unloading items it no longer needed, adding that Syria has actively pursued chemical weapons in the past but not nuclear arms.