Bush: Revealing Reactor Was Meant to Pressure N. Korea

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 30, 2008

President Bush said yesterday that his administration's disclosure of secret information last week about suspected North Korean assistance for a Syrian nuclear reactor was designed to pressure Pyongyang to come clean on its nuclear activities.

At a Rose Garden news conference, Bush also said he wanted to send a message to Iran to cooperate with international efforts to limit proliferation, and to Syria to help stabilize Iraq and Lebanon.

"One of the things that this example shows is that these programs can exist and people don't know about them," Bush told reporters. He added that "the Syrians simply didn't declare the program; they had a hidden program."

Bush and other senior administration officials were silent for nearly eight months about Israel's destruction last September of a building that U.S. intelligence officials said last week was a nuclear reactor, built with North Korea's assistance. Syria has denied it was building a reactor.

The discovery of North Korean ties to the facility has complicated U.S. efforts to get the country to give up nuclear weapons. Under a deal involving Pyongyang, Washington and other parties to the talks, North Korea is supposed to provide an inventory of its nuclear program, but it has yet to do so.

Bush said the disclosures last week should make it "abundantly clear" to North Korea that "we may know more about you than you think, and therefore it's essential that you have a complete disclosure on not only your plutonium activities, but proliferation, as well as enrichment activities."

In recent negotiations, the administration has pulled back on its demand for full disclosure, requesting that North Korea only acknowledge U.S. concerns and evidence on proliferation and uranium enrichment.

Bush avoided criticism of former president Jimmy Carter's recent talks with Hamas, the radical Palestinian group classified by the U.S. government as a terrorist entity. The United States refuses to engage with Hamas, which Bush said is "undermining peace."

"They're the ones whose foreign policy objective is the destruction of Israel," he said. "They're the ones who are trying to create enough violence to stop the advance of the two-party state solution."

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