Jeffrey LewisOlmert Claims BOE was "Nuclear-Related"

Well, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert told Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda that the “Box on the Euphrates” asked for it, “Japanese government sources” leaked the contents of the meeting to the Asahi Shimbun, and Asahi translated it as “nuclear-related.” Maybe he said “reactor”. I dunno:

Japanese government sources said over the weekend that the Israeli leader, Ehud Olmert, briefed Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda about the attack during summit talks in Tokyo on Feb. 27.


According to the sources, Olmert told Fukuda that the site was a nuclear-related facility that was under construction with know-how and assistance from North Korean technicians dispatched by Pyongyang.

Olmert also said Israel remains concerned about the issue of nuclear proliferation by North Korea and sought greater information sharing with Tokyo through expanded dialogue on the issue.

Japanese government officials expressed differing views on how to interpret Olmert’s statement.

“While we cannot confirm the facts, the fact that such an assertion was made at an official occasion such as a summit meeting is significant, making it highly credible,” said one high-ranking Foreign Ministry official.

Another Foreign Ministry official pointed out, however, that the Israeli leader “may have only presented facts that were favorable for the Israeli side.”

This is the English summary. The Japanese version is here. I am also posting the full-text in Japanese in the comments because readers MTC and Robot Economist have been kind enough to collaborate on short-translations from Japanese that are of interest to the community.

Check out their fine discussion about the Sankei article on Japanese nuclear weapons.


  1. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Syria got N. Korea help for N-facility

    「北朝鮮支援の核施設」 シリア空爆でイスラエル首相








  2. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    It was a funny comment, but I am not sure others would have appreciated it as much as I did.

  3. Robot Economist (History)

    The Asahi article uses the term ‘kakukanrenshisetsu’ (核関連施設), which literally translates to nuclear-related facility.

    ‘kaku’ means ‘nuclear,’ ‘kanren’ loosely translates to ‘relation’ or ‘connection’ and ‘shisetsu’ means ‘facility.’ Japanese is such a bland language sometimes…

    What is interesting is that the sentence immediately after that say Olmert admitted that they didn’t have a clear understanding of the facility’s purpose. The Asahi states that that was the first time the Israelis had publicly admitted uncertainty to another government.

  4. MTC (History)

    “What is interesting is that the sentence immediately after that say Olmert admitted that they didn’t have a clear understanding of the facility’s purpose.”

    Uh, no.

    The translation on the English language Asahi Shimbun page has the proper nuance: Olmert’s briefing to Prime Minister Fukuda in February seemed to have been the first known instance of the government of Israel telling another government that the bombed site was “nuclear related.”

    As for the possibility that the site was a reactor, the Japanese text is non-committal. As the Robot Economist notes, the Asahi differentiates between the Syrian facility, which it calls a “nuclear-related facility” (kakukanrenshisetsu) and the Yongbyong facilities, which it calls out as “nuclear facilities” (kakushisetsu).

    The veracity of the report is somewhat bolstered by the appearance of a nearly identical report in the Yomiuri Shimbun:

    The Asahi and the Yomiuri tend to not get along. That they both tell exactly the same story, even to the point of using the same terminology, is an indication that the story is an official, Government of Japan-approved rumor.