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An apologist for Syria shifts his ground

Yesterday, I noted that Joseph Cirincione, Barack Obama’s go-to guy on nuclear issues, insisted in September 2007 that reports of North Korean involvement in developing a Syrian nuclear facility were “nonsense” cooked up by the Bush administration and Israel for their own purposes. One might think that being this wrongheaded — lashing out against a valid report due to dislike of its sources and implications — would disqualify Cirincione not just from his status in the Obama campaign, but also from being a “talking head” on the issue.

One would be wrong. Cirincione apparently remains Obama’s adviser. This morning, moreover, NPR turned to Cirincione in its report on the North Korea-Syria collaboration. Given the state of the record, Cirincione no longer denied the existence or weapons-based purpose of the collaboration. His fall-back position was that the existence of the project didn’t mean that Syria had, or was close to having, a nuclear capability.

But Cirincione latest brief against Israel is irrelevant. Unless, of course, one believes, as Cirincione (and Obama) might well, that Israel must wait until Syria is on the verge of developing a nuclear capabililty — and thus must rely on uncertain assessments about this — before it acts to protect its security.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, the Syria-North Korea connection story hardly represents the first time Cirincione has shown his bias against Israel. As usual, Ed Lasky has the details. Cirincione appears to hold the view that the key to halting Iran’s development of a nuclear arsenal is for Israel to give up on nuclear weapons.

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