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Israel fears U.S. hearings on Syrian reactor attack disclose top secret
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19:53, April 24, 2008

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Israeli defense officials in Jerusalem have expressed concern that classified details of Israel's bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility last September will be disclosed during U.S. congressional hearings on the incident Thursday in Washington, local daily Ha'aretz reported on its website.

The American administration is slated to provide Thursday extensive details about the nature of the facility destroyed by the Israel Air Force (IAF) on September 6.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that U.S. Congress will hear from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that the facility destroyed in the IAF attack was a nuclear reactor for producing plutonium.

Thursday's briefings of the Senate and House Intelligence committees, as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee, will deal with evidence that Syria was building a nuclear reactor that could be needed to produce plutonium, a U.S. government official familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Learning of the planned U.S. congressional hearings three weeks ago, Israeli defense officials have expressed concerns that publication of classified details about the attack could compel Syria to resort to a violent response, or at any rate reignite tensions between Jerusalem and Damascus.

The information from the U.S. will evidently focus on questions relating to the type of facility that was attacked, the quality of intelligence that Israel and the U.S. had about the Syrian program, Ha'aretz said.

The U.S. administration will probably volunteer fewer details about the manner in which the attack was carried out, and the forces and units that participated in it, the daily added.

Israel, however, does not intend to break the official silence it has maintained on the matter for the past seven months.

Israeli security sources told Ha'aretz on Wednesday night that the government will not go public with new information on the case.

Israeli Prime Minister's office declined to comment on the matter Wednesday, and referred to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's statements last week in his Pesach interview with media, in which he said that "the Syrians know what our position is, and we know what their expectations are," Ha'aretz said.


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