JERUSALEM – Israel should give up its nuclear weapons to ensure Iran halts its illicit nuclear program, argues an adviser on nuclear issues to Sen. Barack Obama.
Joseph Cirincione, director of nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, also previously dismissed reports Israel’s Sept. 6 airstrike targeted a Syrian nuclear reactor as “nonsense” and called Damascus’ nuclear program “miniscule.”
Immediately following Israel’s air raid, Cirincione listed “Israelis [who] want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria” as among those spreading rumors Syria was constructing a nuclear facility.
Cirincione was commenting on a Sept. 13 Washington Post story about possible links between Syria and North Korea.
His statements have been circulating around the blogosphere the past few days after the U.S. government last week released what it said was photographic evidence Syria was constructing a nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea.
“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 pre-existing political agenda,” Cirincione wrote in September on the blog of Foreign Policy magazine.
“If this sounds like the run-up to the war in Iraq, it should. This time it appears aimed at derailing the U.S.-North Korean agreement that administration hardliners think is appeasement,” Cirincione wrote.
In a September interview with National Public Radio, Cirincione stated “certain hard-line Israelis who are aimed at preventing a U.S.-Syrian or an Israeli-Syrian dialogue” were using the Syrian nuclear story to affect talks with Damascus.
He called reports Israel struck a Syrian nuclear site “the most overblown story I’ve seen since before the buildup to the war in Iraq.”
“There’s precious little information available, but it hasn’t stop people with political agendas from spinning it at such an absurd level as if these claims are facts,” Cirincione said.
The Obama adviser characterized Syria’s nuclear program as “not amount[ing] to much. Begun almost 40 years ago, the Syrian program is a rudimentary research program built around a tiny 30-kilowatt research reactor that produces isotopes and neutrons.”
“Syria does not have the financial, technical or industrial base to develop a serious nuclear program anytime in the foreseeable future.”
Cirincione’s assessment and his claims about false leaks to the media directly contradict a U.S. government briefing to select congressional committees last week on some details of the Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike.
The U.S. released video of the targeted Syrian building showing what the CIA said was a soon-to-be completed nuclear reactor similar to one in Yongbyon, 55 miles north of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
Also, the U.S. released photographs that show what appears to be the inside of the nuclear reactor and a picture of a Syrian official standing with a well-known nuclear engineer for the North Korean government.
White House press secretary Dana Perino issued a statement last week explaining the “Syrian regime was building a covert nuclear reactor in its eastern desert capable of producing plutonium.
“We are convinced, based on a variety of information, that North Korea assisted Syria’s covert nuclear activities. We have good reason to believe that reactor, which was damaged beyond repair on Sept. 6 of last year, was not intended for peaceful purposes.”
The U.S. statement accused Syria of hiding the reactor from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and said after the Israeli airstrike, Damascus moved quickly to bury evidence of the reactor’s existence.
Even after the U.S. briefings last week, Cirincione held strong to his conspiracy theories.
“We should learn first from the past and be very cautious about any intelligence from the U.S. about other country’s weapons,” he told the Guardian newspaper last Friday.
Cirincione has been described in media reports as a top nuclear advisor to Obama. But he characterizes his role as writing occasional memos to Obama’s campaign.
Cirincione did not return phone call requests for an interview with WND.
Ed Lasky of American Thinker notes Cirincione outlines in his book, “Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons,” that he favors Israel giving up its nuclear weapons to ensure Iran doesn’t obtain nukes.
“Cirincione is optimistic that Israel with its vast and superior conventional forces could be encouraged to incrementally reduce or even eliminate its nuclear capability, perhaps starting by shutting down its production reactor at Dimona,” one reviewer of Cirincione’s book notes.
Circincione has argued in papers the U.S. should have an “evenhanded approach” toward a nuclear-free Middle East and that Israel should make public its nuclear weapons program as part of nuclear negotiations.
The Obama adviser was also quoted in 2006 calling Israel’s 1981 raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor a “failure.”
The raid was widely credited with completely halting deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s nuclear programs.
Of Cirincione’s views toward Syria, Gabriel Schoenfeld writes on the Commentary Magazine blog, “Cirincione sounds remarkably similar to Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations. ‘There was no Syria-North Korea cooperation whatsoever in Syria. We deny these rumors,’ Bashar Ja’afari said.”