Hour Two: Congress to Review Syria Nukes

A reported reactor in Syria modeled after North Korea's main nuclear facility was destroyed before it became operational, but pictures will be shown Thursday to the House and Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees.

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

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MIKE PESCA, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, a little bit of trouble funk. I'm Mike Pesca.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

You're a little bit of trouble funk. I'm Rachel Martin.

PESCA: How dare you!

MARTIN: It is Thursday, April 24th, 2008. Do you know who Trouble Funk is?

PESCA: No, no, no. Well...

MARTIN: Well, I know, and Trouble Funk was a band, a go-go band. And recently, their keyboardist - is a go-go band, I've been corrected. They are still around, still thriving in Washington, D.C. Their keyboardist, Robert Reed, passed away recently, last week. And that kind of provoked us to look into, what is this genre known as go-go? It's something very specific to Washington, D.C. Did you even know about this?

PESCA: No, I thought just go-go dancers were like Goldie Hawn in the '60s.

MARTIN: Yeah. No.

PESCA: That's all I knew about go-go.

MARTIN: No. We're going to educate - edumacate everybody on the art of the go-go.

PESCA: A BPP-patented Assisted Listen?

MARTIN: That's what we're going to do, as Assisted Listen on go-go music later on in the show.

PESCA: Also, make your own video game. Microsoft is offering up a platform for everyday folks to design their own video games and then release them to the public.

MARTIN: And everyone is analyzing the women's vote, the Hispanic vote, the black vote, the youth vote in this election, this seemingly never-ending Democratic primary. What about the white guys?

PESCA: What about the white guys?

MARTIN: As a white guy, what about yourself?

PESCA: What about the white guy?

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: I feel the white guys are the future.

MARTIN: Are you being neglected?

PESCA: Yeah, I think that the poor white guys, the downtrodden white guys.

MARTIN: Some people out there think that's exactly true.

PESCA: Some of us are up-trodden.

MARTIN: Some people think you're downtrodden and that more attention needs to be paid to your issues, and that you could be the soccer moms of 2008.

PESCA: Although, advice from a white guy, if you want to pay attention to our issues, don't start with, "we need to talk." White guys don't like that. Do it over a beer.

MARTIN: I'll take note of that. We'll get the day's headlines in just a minute, but first...

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PESCA: Syria and North Korea are bedfellows, and they've shared plans for a nuclear reactor under the covers. At least that's what CIA director Michael Hayden will tell Congress today, according to a senior U.S. official.

MARTIN: Quick backstory first. Last fall, Israeli war planes bombed a suspicious facility in Syria that Israel said was the beginnings of a nuclear reactor. After a secret attack, neither the United States nor Israel provided evidence to the International Atomic Agency about what was going on in that reactor.

In fact, all governments involved, including the Syrians, pretty much kept mum about the raid, perhaps fearing an escalation in tensions in an already-tense part of the world. Today, the incident is expected to get its widest airing to date.

PESCA: U.S. officials say Israeli intelligence has pictures of the Syrian construction site that show a reactor modeled after North Korea's main nuclear facility in Pyongyang. The Syrian complex was destroyed before it became operational, but the pictures will be shown to the House and Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relation Committees in a briefing today.

MARTIN: The senior U.S. official tells NPR that the evidence of North Korea's nuclear assistance to Syria goes beyond the pictures, and that it comes, quote, "from more than one source in more than one place."

PESCA: Some members of Congress saw this information last fall, but the briefing is being repeated for more members now as negotiations continue over North Korea's nuclear disarmament. Yesterday, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said if North Korea wants to cozy up to us, there better not be anyone hiding under the bed.

Mr. SEAN MCCORMACK (Spokesman, U.S. Department of State): In this case, the focus is on North Korea. Are they going to perform on fulfilling their obligations? And there isn't going to be any recommendation to move forward in the process from this building, from this secretary of state, and the president unless you have a declaration that is consistent with what we know about their activities, and one that is acceptable to all the parties involved.

MARTIN: As for Syria, it denies they were talking with the North Koreans on their reactor. And yesterday on the eve of today's congressional briefing, their foreign minister said, Syria is open to peace talks with Israel. But David Schenker, who was the Pentagon's top Syrian expert until 2006, is skeptical of such an offer.

Mr. DAVID SCHENKER (Former Syrian Expert, Pentagon): These diplomatic signals of Syrian willingness for peace, they're almost routine now. You can almost plot it on a graph. At moments of maximum pressure, Syrians are always mentioning the idea of peace with Israel.

PESCA: U.S. and Israeli officials agree that they've seen no sign of Syrian efforts to build a new nuclear reactor since the site was bombed. You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now, let's get to some more of today's headlines with BPP's Mark Garrison.

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