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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Syria destroying the evidence

I already reported on Sunday that Syria was destroying the evidence of its nuclear weapons facility that Israel destroyed on September 6. Now we have the satellite imagery to prove it:

The new photograph, taken by a commercial satellite yesterday, suggests that Syrian officials moved quickly to remove evidence of the project after it was damaged by Israeli bombs on Sept. 6, said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonprofit research group.

"They are clearly trying to hide the evidence," Albright said in an interview. "It is a trick that has been tried in the past and it hasn't worked."

The construction site is located in Syria's western desert near the village of At Tibnah, about 90 miles from the Iraqi border. Commercial satellite photos of the site in early August, before the Israeli attack, showed a tall, box-like building under construction a few hundred yards from the Euphrates River.

Some U.S. officials and nuclear experts said the building appeared to be a nuclear reactor, one that closely resembled a North Korean reactor capable of producing enough nuclear material for one bomb per year.

The new satellite photo clearly depicts the same site visible in the earlier images, but the tall building has vanished, replaced by a dirt lot. Trucks and construction equipment seen in earlier photos are also gone.

The only structure still visible is a small adjunct building on the river bank about 800 yards from the main site. Nuclear experts say the small building apparently was a pumping station of the type that could be used to supply water to nuclear reactors.

Albright said the photo suggests the Syrians were abandoning the site, though he expressed surprise at the speed with which the main structure had been dismantled and cleared away.

"It's quicker than you'd expect, given that the IAEA would like to visit the site," he said. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has repeatedly requested information about the facility from the Syrian government in the weeks since news of the Israeli raid emerged.
Why on earth does he think the Syrians would want to let the IAEA visit?


The New York Times has both before and after pictures and reports that the ground has been 'scraped' to remove evidence.
The Institute for Science and International Security, Mr. Albright’s group, released a report analyzing the new DigitalGlobe image. The building, it said, had been “completely removed and the ground scraped.”

The comparison of August and October images, it said, “effectively confirms that this site was indeed the target of the Israeli raid” in September.

The report said tractors or bulldozers could be seen where the suspected reactor building once stood, as well as scrape marks on the ground. It added that the dismantling and removal of the building “at such a rapid pace dramatically complicates any inspection of the facilities.”

The report said Syria had an obligation to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency of its decision to construct any new nuclear facility. It added that weapons experts were now debating whether Syria would have violated its safeguards agreement with the agency if it started clandestine work on a nuclear reactor.

Syria signed an agreement with the agency in 1992 and is obligated, the report said, under that accord to report on its nuclear plans and developments to the Vienna agency, which is an arm of the United Nations.

“An important question,” the report said, “is whether Syria may be in violation of its agreements.”

If the atomic energy agency found Syria in violation of its responsibilities, it could refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions, as has recently occurred in the case of Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons program.
There actually might be a better chance of Syria being sanctioned than Iran. Syria doesn't have any assets the world wants to buy.


At 6:21 PM, Blogger Daniel434 said...

I'm just glad Assad is sitting somewhere clenching his fists knowing he lost millions and time spent getting the operation together and building the reactor knowing he can't even lift a finger against Israel lest he provokes his own annihilation.


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