U.S. President George Bush says caution was the reason for delay in disclosing details about a secret Syrian nuclear facility that was destroyed by Israel last September:
"We were concerned that an early disclosure would increase the risk of a confrontation in the Middle East or retaliation in the Middle East."
The U.S. publicly announced its conclusions about the Syrian nuclear plant on April 24th. In a written statement, White House press secretary Dana Perino said that the Syrian government, with the help of North Korea, was building a covert nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium, and that the reactor "was not intended for peaceful purposes."
President Bush said disclosing information about Syria’s clandestine nuclear reactor at this time was done "to advance certain policy objectives":
"One would be to the North Koreans, to make it abundantly clear 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."
Another policy objective, said Mr. Bush, was to send "a message to Iran and to the world about just how destabilizing nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East":
"And that it’s essential that we work together to enforce UN Security Council resolutions aimed at getting Iran to stop their enrichment programs. In other words, one of the things that this example [the Syrian nuclear reactor] shows is that these programs can exist and people don’t know about them – because the Syrians simply didn’t declare the program; they had a hidden program."
Finally, said President Bush, the U.S. wanted to send a message to and about the Syrian government: that Syria’s policies – refusing to safeguard its borders with Iraq, destabilizing Lebanon, supporting Hamas in its efforts to sabotage the possibilities for peace between Palestinians and Israelis -- are destructive. This is a chance to remind the world, said Mr. Bush, "that we need to work together to deal with those issues."