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Bush Privately Lauds Israeli Attack on Syria

On January 9, in one of the most wide-ranging security discussions since the Israeli airstrike on a Syrian nuclear reactor last September, President George W. Bush privately commended his Israeli host on what was described as an important preventive action, reveals Defense News. (For more on the September airstrike, see here.)
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that the Syrians have begun rebuilding the bombed site. The newspaper said satellite pictures showed the new structure appears to closely resemble the original structure, but that the roof of the new building is vaulted instead of flat.
In a related development, Israeli intelligence has determined (after “multiple examinations by various means”) that there is no link between the Iranian and Syrian nuclear drives. Israeli intelligence agencies concluded that Iran had no connection to the Syrian nuclear program and probably was not even aware of the clandestine site in eastern Syria, according to Defense News sources.
Concerning the Iranian issue, Newsweek reports in its January 21 issue that Bush, in private, has all but disowned the National Intelligence Estimate, which was made public on December 3. The NIE dramatically downplayed the efforts made by the Islamic dictatorship in Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb. Bush made the remarks in conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, according to a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his trip to the Mideast.

Tom GrossTom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

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