US: North Korea warned against sending nuclear material to Syria

Washington, 13 Sept. (AKI) - US President George Bush warned North Korea last year against transferring nuclear material to Syria, Iran or a terrorist organisation, saying such a move would be perceived as a "grave threat," according to a former senior government official.

In a telephone conversation with the Israeli daily, Haaretz, former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said Bush had issued the warning because the administration feared North Korea could be using Syria and Iran as "safe havens" for its nuclear activity.

Bolton, now affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, served Bush in his first term as under-secretary of state for arms control and international security.

In his role, he often clashed with other officials, most notably from the CIA, regarding Syria's nuclear plans.

On Thursday, a US media report said Damascus may be building a nuclear facility with North Korean assistance, a week after Syria claimed Israeli aircraft had violated its airspace and dropped munitions in its territory.

Israel has refused to comment on Syria's allegations, but a former Israeli official said he had heard the attack had been carried out against a facility capable of producing unconventional weapons.

While Israel has remained silent about the action, media reports said US officials had confirmed the the Israel Air Force had conducted an air strike last Thursday.

On Tuesday, Syria complained to the UN about Israel's "aggression and violation of sovereignty."

Haaretz said the only countries that have expressed solidarity with Syria are Iran and North Korea.


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