Great news: Syria has enough uranium for 5 nukesFinancial Times of London.
David Albright, the head of the US-based Institute for Science and International Security think-tank, and a leading expert on the Iranian nuclear programme, said there were legitimate concerns about a uranium stockpile in Syria.
“There are real worries about what has happened to the uranium that Syria was planning to put into the Al-Kibar reactor shortly before the reactor was destroyed in 2007,” he said. “There’s no question that, as Syria gets engulfed in civil war, the whereabouts of this uranium is worrying governments. There is evidence to suggest this issue has been raised by one government directly with the IAEA.”
An IAEA inspection team visited the destroyed Al-Kibar site in May 2008 and only found traces of uranium. This merely added to the mystery of where the 50 tonnes of uranium, if it exists, might be. Such a stockpile would be enough, according to experts, to provide weapons grade fuel for five atomic devices.
Some government officials have raised concerns that Iran, which is closely allied to the Syrian regime and urgently needs uranium for its nuclear programme, might be trying to seize such a stockpile.
These officials’ fears have been triggered by signs of movement at what they allege is a secret uranium conversion facility that the Syrian regime built at the town of Marj al-Sultan near Damascus.
Three satellite pictures of the Marj al-Sultan site taken in October, November and December of 2012 and shown to the FT, and displayed here above and on the left, appear to show the gradual clearance of a large orchard there, for no apparent reason.
Whether the uranium is at the site is unclear, the officials conceded. But they said: “Syria is almost certainly in possession of good quality uranium of the type that Iran has been trying to acquire on the international market for years. It would certainly be possible to transfer this from Syria to Iran by air.”
Were that to happen – and Iran were to attempt to build another secret uranium plant – such a stockpile could be a “vital resource”, the officials argued, and possibly be used to build a bomb.And lest you think it would be so easy to shoot down a plane flying uranium from Syria to Iran, recall that Syria uses commercial flights on Syrian Airlines for that purpose.
What could go wrong?