Bashir Assad has some 'splaining to do
A Syrian complex bombed by Israel bore features resembling those of an undeclared nuclear reactor and U.N. inspectors found "significant" traces of uranium at the site, a watchdog report said on Wednesday.
But the International Atomic Energy Agency report said the findings gleaned from inspectors' visit to the site in June were not enough to conclude a reactor was once there. It said further investigation and greater Syrian transparency were needed.
The confidential nuclear safeguards report said Syria would be asked to show to inspectors debris and equipment whisked away from the site after the September 2007 Israeli air raid.
The United States gave intelligence to the IAEA last April that Washington said indicated the site was a reactor that was close to being built with North Korean assistance and designed to produce plutonium for atomic bombs.
Syria, an ally of Iran whose disputed uranium enrichment program has been under IAEA investigation for years, says the site destroyed was a disused military building and the uranium traces almost certainly came with the munitions used to bomb it.
Damascus has dismissed as fabricated the satellite imagery and other intelligence underpinning the investigation.
"While it cannot be excluded that the building in question was intended for non-nuclear use, the features of the building, along with the connectivity of the site to adequate pumping capacity of cooling water, are similar to what may be found in connection with a reactor site," said the IAEA report, sent to its 35-nation board of governors ahead of a November 27-28 meeting.
It noted Syria had not produced requested documentation to support its declarations about the nature of the building nor agreed to follow-up IAEA visits to three other locations seen as harboring possible evidence linked to Israel's target.
The IAEA intended to ask Syria to let inspectors take swipe samples from rubble and any equipment removed from the site.
And how far will that request go? Not very, to be sure. The IAEA has been jerked around by tinhorn dictators for years, and so we doubt Assad will bow to the request to test any of the debris the Syrians were so eager to remove from the site after the airstrike. But given what they've found thus far, it's not beyond logic or reason to assume that Syria was working on a reactor. Recall, if you will, that North Korean engineers were helping them work on that site. And when the Syrians were confronted by that intelligence, they admitted the NorKs had been there ... offloading concrete. Uh-huh. Tell us another one.
It now seems that Israel has spared the West's bacon for a second time. The first coming in 1981 with the bombing of the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, and now this one. The last thing this world needs is nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorist-enabling dictators like Assad and Ahmadinejad. That's why we're feverishly working to head off the Iranians from creating a nuke themselves, or obtaining the relevant technology to create a capable warhead.
But again, Syria's not going to comply with the IAEA. They'll stall them for as long as possible, and if the IAEA recommends to the UN to have sanctions slapped on Syria, they'll stall there too. The only thing this report does is confirm what the Israelis had confirmed with the airstrike in the first place. Syria was working on a nuclear reactor, and we all know why they wanted it. It wasn't for peaceful purposes, as the Iranians claim theirs is (yeah, right). It was to produce plutonium to make a nuclear weapon. Or, at the very least, produce the plutonium to hand off to their strategic partner in Iran to further their goals. After all, and airstrike to take out their enrichment facilities could set them back for awhile. My guess is that's what the site was intended for in the first place. Not to further Assad's ambitions, but rather Iran's; a "just in case" site if an airstrike was approved on their own facilities.
HT to Captain Ed