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U.S. officials are divided on the reliability of Israeli allegations regarding a Syrian weapons of mass destruction program.

Israel presented the Bush administration with intelligence meant to justify its Sept. 6 airstrike against a suspected nuclear facility in northern Syria, but some in Washington remain unconvinced, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

According to the newspaper, those backing Israel’s approach, including Vice President Dick Cheney, want the United States to consider a tougher approach to Syria and its alleged nuclear sponsor, North Korea.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her allies in the administration have voiced misgivings about the intelligence and do not want a change in U.S. strategy, the Times reported.

Syria and North Korea have denied cooperating on WMDs, but Syria’s accounts of the Israeli airstrike have been inconsistent. Vice President Farouk Shara first described the target as an agricultural research complex; President Bashar Assad later said it was a disused military building.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is due to visit Washington next week. It was not immediately clear if explaining the Syrian sortie, which Jerusalem officials have refused to discuss, will be on Barak’s agenda.

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