Israel "mole" took photos of Syrian target -report

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WASHINGTON, Oct 20 (Reuters) Israel had obtained detailed pictures of a Syrian complex from an apparent mole, which supported an Israeli belief the facility was nuclear and led to an air strike on it last month, ABC News reported.

ABC, citing a senior US official yesterday, said the person had provided several pictures of the complex from the ground, and Israel showed the images to the CIA. The US spy agency helped pinpoint ''drop points'' to assist in potential targeting, ABC said.

Israel urged the United States to destroy the complex, but Washington hesitated because no fissionable material was found that would prove the site was nuclear, ABC said.

The network quoted the official as saying the facility was of North Korean design and that Syria must have had ''human'' help from North Korea.

The White House and the CIA declined to comment on the report, in keeping with a strict US refusal to discuss the issue.

Israel has confirmed that it carried out an air strike on Syria on September 6 but it has not described the target. Syria has said only that it was a building under construction.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the targeted site was modeled on a facility North Korea used for stockpiling atomic bomb fuel. Syria has one declared, small research nuclear reactor under safeguard of the International Atomic Energy Agency and has denied hiding any nuclear activity.

The complex struck by Israel was in a remote area about 100 miles (160 km) from the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates River, ABC said.

It said the official described the pictures as showing a large cylindrical structure, still under construction, with thick reinforced walls. There was also a secondary structure and a pump station with trucks around it.

''It was unmistakable what it was going to be. No doubt in my mind,'' ABC quoted the official as saying.

The United States had begun to consider ways to destroy the complex, such as a special forces raid using helicopters, ABC said. But it said the White House sent word the United States would not carry out a raid and urged Israel not to do it either.

REUTERS RKM BST0600

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