Night Watch

Russia-North Korea:Russian officials said they interpret the white vapor plume at Yongbyon to signify testing of the electric power generation system, not a sign the reactor is nearing operational status. Their main point is that the reactor is in such a state of disrepair that it cannot be started safely.

Comment:The Russian argument is a good reason to not try to restart the reactor, but it does not mean the North Koreans won't try just the same.

Russia-Iran:Update.The Office of the Russian President said the report in yesterday'sKommersantwas untrue. At this time President Putin is not planning to offer the S-300 system to Iran.

According toKommersant, the Russians were to provide the S-300 system in return for Iran's agreement to halt its breach of contract lawsuits against Russia for canceling a sale of the same system in 2010 in order to comply with UN sanctions.

Syria:Syrian ambassador to the UN Jaafari said, "Legally speaking Syria has become, starting today, a full member of the (chemical weapons) convention." He made the statement after submitting relevant documents to the United Nations.

He said President Bashar al-Asad signed a legislative decree on Thursday that "declared the Syrian Arab Republic approval to accede to the convention" and that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu'allim had written to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to notify it of Syria's decision to join the convention.

"The chemical weapons in Syria are a mere deterrence against the Israeli nuclear arsenal," Jaafari said as he waved a document he said was a CIA report on Israel's chemical weapons program.

"It's a deterrent weapon and now the time has come for the Syrian government to join the (convention) as a gesture to show our willingness to be against all weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Comment:Syria has to comply with other provisions of the convention before it is considered a signatory to the convention, but it has taken the first step that leads to international control and destruction of its chemical weapons. That is a breakthrough in its own right. Israel should be pleased and relieved, just a bit. Israel is not a signatory to the Convention nor a member of the OPCW.

Night Watch

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