"Not everything is clear yet" — Israel, Syria, North Korea, Iran and more

Gideon Lichfield, Jerusalem correspondent of The Economist, has posted this today on his blog [www.fugitivepeace.com]:

The mystery about Israel’s air strike against Syria on September 6th, which I wrote about in the current issue, continues to deepen. The story taking hold is that Israel hit material or equipment for nuclear weapons supplied by North Korea.  But something still smells fishy.

“For a start, the way this story has emerged in public is odd in the extreme.  Well-connected Israeli journalists hinted from very early on that they knew what was going on but couldn’t say, a sign that censorship was in effect.  (That is censored too, but it has become so obvious that they are now saying it openly.)  All last week it was the American media – CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times – which dripped out the story, mainly with off-the-record comments from American officials.

“But today it’s Britain’s Sunday Times which carries it forward, with a lot of enticing details from unnamed Israeli sources about how an Israeli commando unit on the ground guided the bombers; how the Mossad found ‘evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea’; how Israel diverted a spy satellite from Iran to Syria; and, interestingly, how the mysterious rise in Israel-Syria sabre-rattling a few weeks ago – which I wrote about in my very first post – was actually the result of Israel’s sending more troops to the Golan ‘in anticipation of possible retaliation by Damascus in the event of air strikes’.

“So, first question: why the Sunday Times? Letting details of the attack leak via Washington last week may have been a way to prevent a flare-up between Israel and Syria or other Arab states. But if Israeli officials have decided that it’ss now safe to break silence, why not in the Israeli press?

“Second question: is it true? Uzi Mahnaimi, the Sunday Times’s man in Tel Aviv, is a former Mossad man known for having excellent security sources. But as I’ve discussed before, journalists in that position are also susceptible to being fed misinformation and printing it, knowingly or otherwise
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